It’s 2015, and technology has come far enough that we human beings are being more productive than ever!
Well, at least, we wish we were.
Some of the very same technologies that were invented to make us more productive are, as it turns out, actually making us less productive. Is it the reliance on technology? Is it that we cannot be invested in things we barely are able to take part in? Research into the various tools and software that we use to stay productive doesn’t give a single, clear answer, but it does offer some insight into what tools are making us less productive. Take a look at these five:
1. Calendar Software
Let’s take calendar software as an example. Sure, it helps keep things nice and orderly. You have the ability to collaborate with others, share it and it will be there on any technological device you have on hand (for the most part). However, there’s a double-edged sword.
Calendars that are built to be shared or on a platform of some kind run the risk of drawing you in to check your invites for ten minutes, or adjusting the tag colors of the meetings, or even run the risk of someone else cancelling and rescheduling an event. Now you have to go and chase down everything once more and then enter it in once again to your specifications. Kelly James-Enger, author of “Six-Figure Freelancing” swears by writing down appointments and notes by hand on old-fashioned calendars to save time and stay productive
While calendar and scheduling software do allow for keeping us informed on the go, they also come with the downside of distracting us more than they actually keep us in order – ironic? Not really. Our modern minds do love to wander when it comes to menial tasks and scheduling an appointment isn’t a far stretch beyond the definition of menial.
2. Messengers and communication software
Instant messaging has made things a lot more, well, instant. That means things are super-efficient and fast now, correct? Well, to some degree, sure. However, instant messengers between students or in a workplace have been shown to take the focus off of the actual point of quick communication and inspire a lot more procrastination and gossiping. Quite a few big companies have taken to implement chat software and communication methods that cut down on employees being tempted to look away from their work and chat on how cute the new employee is or commiserate about the boss (a few of you have done it, admit it). In short, instant-messengers have a lot of great uses – they just come at the cost of making us less productive. Sound familiar?
A beloved aid to teacher and student alike, as well as in the corporate world, Powerpoint has proven to be very popular. Popular though it may be, studies have shown that Powerpoint is greatly reducing the amount of productivity, learning and involvement that comes from the people using it. It might be a bit sardonic, but staring blankly at a white sheet with bullet points on it never did feel very productive. That aside, teachers and students still swear by this tool, but those studies have pretty much shown that a big percentage of those lovingly clinging to Powerpoint are probably doing so because of how little effort it invokes in them.
That crotchety old man who you see in TV shows that is always yelling about how things were better in his day, and us whipper-snappers were having our brains turned to mush by all of the modern technology we now rely on? Yeah, he’s still someone you should probably ignore, but the problem with smartphones is that they’re working much more smartly than we are.
“But I can do so much more work now!” you might protest, “I’ve never been as organized and productive as I am with my smartphone!”. OK, great. That neat little device does carry a lot of things to make us more productive. You know what else it carries? Games, Netflix, text-messaging and plenty of other wonders that are making humans even less productive with them than without. It is in the eye of the user, of course, but studies have shown that smartphone owners tend to waste a significant amount of time getting nothing done while others are being more productive with less.
5. Management software
A few business owners out there just shuddered. Management software is typically a big suite of software that companies bring in to address all of their needs: it has a database, a calendar (oh no), the ability to send out email blasts, and it almost never ends up being a perfect fit. The scenario goes: you find the right suite, buy it, spend the time and money getting it implemented, your workers trained, and dollar signs dance in the distance. However, then employees start tweaking it to better suit their needs, or the patch update messed things up, or so on and so forth.
Many who have gone through this process can attest to how much time was wasted repeatedly trying to get the software to work for everyone, or sometimes at all. A one-size-fits-all solution for a business or individual is a dream come true, but it typically remains a distant dream while we become more and more unproductive trying to work around what is meant to be making us lightning efficient. Poetic irony, I suppose.
When it comes down to it, many of the tools we use to be productive today are a double-edged sword. The laptop I am typing this on now has a bunch of games calling my name, and it is almost comical how potent the sting is. Remember: staying productive is in your hands, and there are always workarounds and ways to adjust your attitude, environment and tools to better help you remain productive.
Featured photo credit: giuseppemilo via flickr.com