Too Much Technology

by on November 7th, 2012

How much time do you spend every day checking email, logging into Facebook, sending text messages, and surfing the web for things you don’t really care about?

Probably way too much. Many of my MBA classmates did too.

But don’t get me wrong, it happened to me last year as well. As a fairly known MBA Blogger who gets as many emails as most people I know, I woke up one day last year and realized I had the same problem.

I’d put my head down on campus sending dozens of texts and emails when I had friends sitting right in front of me.  I’d write multiple blog posts on a Saturday morning and realized I was getting behind on all my afternoon work. And I’d search stories online only to realize 90 minutes went by in the blink of an eye. And it happened often.

One post on HBR put it this way:

“The definitive Internet act of our times is a perfect metaphor for the promise of reward. We search. And we search. And we search some more … clicking that mouse … looking for the elusive reward that will finally feel like enough.”

In 1997, one Nobel Prize winner Herbert Simon put it this way (also from HBR)

“A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention. And retention. Taking in endless bits and bytes of information is akin to pouring water into a glass already full — in this case our severely limited working memory.”

In some ways, we’re all guilty. Millennials have been doing this for years now–even the President’s campaign is centered around the use of technology.  Emailing friends when other friends are right in front of them. Texting other people, even though they are standing right beside someone they invited along.  And scanning through Facebook to see the latest news, even though the last ten times you were not fulfilled by anything they found.

What I’ve come to find, is that in high level work environments this doesn’t fly. Not only is it looked down upon but it’s also not as productive. Especially when your job is demanding and in jobs where you are forced to account for your time (i.e. a law firm and consulting firm).

While you don’t have to turn off your technology entirely, at some point we’ll all have to do better. We’ll have to consciously ignore it during times that matter. During your most important projects. In the time leading up to important meetings. During your most productive times. And of course when you’re with people whose attention you care about.

Of course, if you don’t do it now, life will force you. Friends will notice you are not engaged enough. Jobs will notice you’re not productive enough. You’ll come to find that you’re having a harder time focusing. And the colleague you like working with will eventually see you weren’t paying them enough attention.

All things that have happened to me in the past. And all things that can happen to you.

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