I don’t care if your new phone is meant to save you time. I don’t care if some brilliant software claims to cut down on your admin. I don’t care if the latest wonder-tool of the Web World takes seconds to do what used to take hours.
With new technological advances, we seem to gain time in order to lose it somewhere else.
A lot of the problem lies in the way we perceive these tools. Mobile phones can now do almost anything. But we end up doing new things on the phone, rather than use it on the things you already know. The same goes for services like Facebook. It’s easier and quicker than ever to stay in touch with people you know, sending them messages and keeping abreast of what everyone is up to. But we end up spending hours on the site, chatting with people we’re practically sat next to, or playing one of the many games and time-wasting activities on Facebook Apps.
Technology does not free up time. It can help, but it doesn’t go further than that. The only thing that can truly free up your time is yourself.
Use the wonders of new technology to streamline your projects. Don’t be tempted by the other million services that’ll snatch your time back again. It’s difficult not to get sucked in at first, but the more you look out for time wasters, the more the process should become second nature to you.
Move away from technology while you make solid plans. Cal Newport suggests the following balance:
- High-tech and highly-structured solutions are best for capture
- Low-tech and loosely-structured solutions are best for planning
Cal mentions, “A blank sheet of notebook paper…can outperform even the fanciest scheduling system, so long as the work to be scheduled is held somewhere safe.”
Keep track of what’s important and what’s just a laugh. We’re all meant to have fun, but we’re not meant to have fun at the expense of everything else (including other fun!). It’s easy to get hooked on stuff and, far from having fun, you’re spending all your time on something because you can’t drag yourself away from it.
Don’t do new things just because everyone else seems to be doing them. Peer pressure doesn’t just come through new technologies. You may just be caught up watching TV shows like X Factor or Strictly Come Dancing because everyone else is apparently watching and enjoying. If that’s the only thing you’re enjoying, fine. But our lives quickly get plagued by a range of ‘can’t miss’ and ‘can’t stop’ events. Before long, there’s no more time to spare and something’s gotta give.
Limit the number of passive activities you choose to enjoy. With the Internet, cheap gadgets, easy connectivity and an always-on attitude, I hope it’s obvious why too many passive activities equal danger.
The take home points are these: Streamline; focus on the plan rather than the technology; be cautious and aware; don’t get bogged down by everything that comes your way.
Time is precious. Don’t let gadgets grind it down to nothing!