When someone mentions the words “productivity” and “technology” in the same sentence, there’s often a negative connotation attached to what they’re saying. Over the years, technology has put a drain on focus and output, rather than enhance it. But if you’re strategic with how you use the various technologies you’re surrounded by, you’d be surprised to learn that computers, smartphones, battery-powered gadgets, and wired gizmos can significantly boost your productivity.
Using Technology to Jumpstart Productivity
A debate will always rage in regards to whether more technology is better or worse for society. And while there are strong arguments to be made in both camps, the evidence shows that technology – when used responsibly – can provide a significant and quantifiable boost to productivity in our daily lives. Here are some specific productivity hacks you may find helpful:
- Kill junk email. Did you know that the average person spends 28 percent of their workweek – roughly 11 hours per week – on email? This adds up to more than 568 hours per year (without even accounting for personal email). While some of this email is work-related and necessary, some of it is junk email that zaps time with very little positive return. You can curb the latter by using a tool like Unroll.me, which scans your email, unsubscribes you from the email subscriptions you no longer want, and combines all of the remaining emails into a single summary email.
- Turn off notifications. Nothing puts a strain on productivity quite like the pinging, dinging, and buzzing of your various mobile devices. Each time your phone or tablet vibrates or rings, it sends a signal to your brain telling you to check it right away. Unfortunately, these notifications are often unimportant or untimely. To stop these distractions from pulling you away from significant tasks, turn off all notifications for large blocks of time. Once you’ve finished your tasks, you can then spend a few minutes catching up.
- Keep paperwork digital. Whether it’s work-related or in your personal life, few things are more time-consuming than dealing with applications, contracts, and paperwork. The old print-sign-fax method requires far too many steps. Instead, keep paperwork digital and electronically sign documents to speed up the time it takes.
- Use distraction blockers. Are you a chronic online time-waster? Do you pull up an internet browser with the intention of doing something productive, only to find yourself mindlessly scrolling through BuzzFeed? One of these distraction-blockers could help.
- Create keyboard shortcuts. How many repetitive tasks do you perform on the computer every day? Whether it’s within Word or Excel documents, on the internet, or within a specific software or program, you’d be surprised to learn that the bulk of your tasks are relatively similar from day to day. Some of these tasks can be made more efficient with the help of custom keyboard shortcuts.
- Use a sleep cycle alarm clock. Productivity starts with getting out of bed at the right time and in the correct frame of mind. On your own, you’re bound to mess this up. What you really need is a sleep cycle alarm clock – such as this one – which tracks your sleep patterns and wakes you up when you’re in “light sleep.” As a result, you get up feeling more refreshed and ready to tackle the day.
Clearly there’s a balance between letting distracting technologies ruin your focus and leveraging the right technologies to maximize your output. And sometimes the difference between the two is an extremely fine line.
Self-Discipline and Willpower in the Face of Distractions
For all of the good that modern technology affords its users, it’s equally as challenging and disruptive to our daily lives. Too much constant dependence on technology renders us powerless to the forces of distractions and dramatically enhances our need to perfect our self-discipline and willpower.
In order to use technology as a productivity booster – rather than distraction – you have to be able to set your priorities, avoid time-sucks (we’re looking at you social media), and tell yourself no. When you apply these acquired skills in tandem with some of the hacks and suggestions highlighted in this article, technology can enhance your pursuit of productivity, rather than hinder it.