Technology – does it really make life easier?

An interesting survey this week by the Institute of Leadership and Management has looked at the world of work over the past 10 years, and asked today’s managers to reflect on how things have changed.

The research revealed the dramatic affects that technology has had on our working lives. The devices which are meant to make life easier, in fact have created a whole set of new challenges.

Now we are expected to be reachable almost 24/7, and the amount of information and messages we receive each day has greatly increased. So rather than helping us work smarter, the technology seems to have had the opposite affect.

The managers interviewed for the research reported that they receive between 40 and 100 more e-mails each day compared with a decade ago. The average commute has increased to 49 minutes, managers are traveling more for work and are generally feeling more stressed now. This increase in stress of course may have much to do with the very different economic circumstances we find ourselves in compared to 2001, rather than just the technology.

Technology

On the technology side, the research was very interesting. See below what the findings were, and also some thoughts on how we can make technology work for us rather than against us.

What technology do you wish had never been invented? And what could you not live without? These are the findings of the research covering 1,300 managers:-

TECHNOLOGY MANAGERS WISH WAS NOT INVENTED

1.   Mobile phone – 29%

2.   BlackBerry – 27%

3.   iPhone – 7%

4.   Desktop PC – 5%

4.   Laptop – 5%

6.   iPod – 4%

7.   iPad – 2%

TECHNOLOGY MANAGERS COULD NOT LIVE WITHOUT

1.   PC – 57%

2.   Laptop – 44%

3.   Mobile phone – 28%

4.   BlackBerry – 18%

5.   iPhone – 13%

6.   iPad – 6%

7.   iPod – 3%

So what can you do to make technology work for you?

  1. Know how much of an impact it has on your life:-
    1. How long do you spend dealing with e-mails/messages each day?
    2. How many of these e-mails/messages are really important?
    3. When do you switch everything off?
    4. How do you feel about being “on-line” as much as you are? Do you ever feel overwhelmed or worry when you are not connected up to technology?

Once you know the answers to these questions, then you can start to make some changes:-

  1. Set some boundaries on when you are available. If people think that you are always going to answer your phone/messages, then they will contact you at all times. If they know that you are not available 7pm – 8am for example, they will not expect an answer. It is up to you to set the boundaries that work for you
  2. Make sure you take breaks during the day. Everyone would benefit from taking regular breaks. Try switching everything off for a blissful 15 – 30 minutes minimum and get away. If this seems a really tough call, then I would recommend all the more that you do it and see what happens.
  3. Take holidays. I have had many conversations this year about not taking technology on holiday. I know lots of people disagree, particularly the self-employed. However, I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to truly get away and give your mind a rest.
  4. If you find the thought of being without your phone, laptop, etc even for an hour, please ask yourself – What are you afraid of? What do you think would happen if you did switch everything off for a day? Your answers to these questions will be very revealing.

For the full findings of the research – Institute of Leadership and Management

This post was written by Charlie Damonsing of CLAssociates. CLAssociates specialises in helping businesses manage stress in the workplace, providing consultancy, training and 1-2-1 support. For further details please contact Charlie on 0771 559 6487.

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