Personal Productivity: Is Technology Your Servant or Your Master?

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On April 9, 2013

We all know that knowledge is power. And leaders who are in the know about what’s happening in the business environment around them are better able to adjust their plans, goals, and strategies. That’s why it’s so important to keep abreast of new developments.

Maybe you’ve heard about the two unemployed CEOs commiserating at a bar. “How did you lose your company?” the one inquired. “I went to the bathroom,” replied his friend, “and forgot to take my smart phone.”

The good news is that today’s technological tools have put an incredible amount of information right at our fingertips. The bad news is that we sometimes become slaves to those tools. Instead of using them to our advantage, we let them control us.

The good folks at gizmodo.com are admittedly “gadget geeks.” They love technological gadgets and what they can do. And they’re always on the lookout for the next new thing. But even they recognize that sometimes our obsession with technology—and with “keeping up”—gets a little out of hand. That’s why they developed the quiz,  Are You Addicted to Technology? Here are just a few of the questions they ask:

1. Do you eat most of your meals while at the computer or in front of the television?

2. Do you sometimes bring your laptop when you sit on the toilet?

3. Do you check your feeds more than 1x per hour?

4. Do you make a nervous habit out of refreshing your inbox over and over, just in case someone emailed you in the last 45 seconds?

5. Can you not remember the last time you didn’t check online reviews before eating at a new restaurant?

6. Do you freak out if you’re in a car and there’s no GPS?

7. Does the verb “tweet” come up regularly in your real-life conversations?

8. Have you ever changed vacation plans based on wi-fi availability?

You can take the whole 50-question quiz here—and check your score. It can be pretty amusing—and horrifying.

The fact is that you don’t need to know everything about everything. Decide what it is you really need to know to succeed and pay attention to that. Develop relationships with smart people in other disciplines and get “big picture” summaries from them. Stay informed, but don’t bury yourself with information that you can’t do something about.

And when it comes to technology, select the tools that meet your needs—not the ones that are shiny and new and “all the rage.” A tool is only a good tool if you can use it to accomplish something you want. Limit the number of tools you use and make sure that they serve you—not the other way around.

Oh, and let me know what score you got on the quiz. I’ll tell you if you tell me. And maybe we can schedule a joint intervention!