Technology Time Management
© Sylvia Henderson – Springboard Training. All rights reserved.
When we think of time management, we typically think of ways to manage our clock time. Time management seminars teach us to prioritize, balance, categorize our “to do” lists, and create colorful schedules. Seldom do we hear about how to manage the ubiquitous technology tools in our personal and professional lives—our computers and mobile devices. We have the choice to convey that we are in control of our technology or that our technology controls us.
Managing technology time is an integral component of your managing your time overall. You can get the most from the time you spend with your computers and devices by following these suggestions.
- Use the fastest-processing machine you can afford or acquire for the type of computing work that you do. Saving money by squeezing the last ounce of performance available on your current machine is a noble budgetary feat. You can be more productive, however, with an upgraded model. Be sure you upgrade for performance/function necessity rather than because the upgraded model is cooler than your current model.
- Group the same kinds of tasks together OR use a suite of products that work together. At times, working on multiple word processing or data entry tasks while your mind focuses on these types of tasks is more effective than switching gears across word processing, database, spreadsheet, and presentation tasks. For example, you may edit three documents in one work sitting because you are in an editing frame of mind rather than a creative frame of mind. At other times a project dictates that you perform different functions at the same time because they constitute a “natural” workflow. For example, researching (using the Internet), outlining (using a word processing app), creating slides (using a presentation app), and developing a graphic representation of a concept (using a drawing app). In such cases, use a suite of products that feed output to each other and whose applications can all be open at the same time. The typical example of such applications is the Office suite of products available both offline and online.
- Create templates for repetitive projects. When you produce letters, presentations, diagrams, spreadsheets, agendas, or other output regularly, create formats and forms you can use over again. Simply replace the text, data, and images as appropriate. Most applications allow you to save and name templates that you create.
- Use web-based applications and secure links to your computer’s data drives so that you can work from anywhere there is Internet / WiFi access. Password-protect your mobile devices and find apps that work in conjunction with your computer and online apps to avoid. Doing so helps you avoid converting files across platforms (ie: an i-device file that may be incompatible with a Windows app). You will be able to use the same programs and data as you use at your primary work location. Doing so also minimizes your forgetting to copy a file to a portable storage device, worrying about whether another computer runs the same programs, and cuts down on the time spent locating and copying files for transport.
- Be intentional with your tools. Schedule technology time, and walk away from or put devices aside when your time is up. You use a knife and fork only at appropriate times (meal times), then put them away until the next time it is appropriate to use them. They are tools you use for eating. Your mobile devices are tools for productivity and entertainment. Schedule times throughout your day when you need to use them for such purposes. “Always engaged” with your technology takes you away from face-to-face human engagement and creates interruption from (and inattention to) tasks that require your focus.
Get more efficient working with your technology tools and you have a better chance of managing your overall time as it involves using these tools. Create an image of having control of your tools rather than being possessed by them.