The Great Distraction

Posted by Justin Unton

January 25, 2013 at 2:30 PM

“The simpler, the better.” That phrase in Darren Tedesco’s last post, New Year’s Nonsense, really caught my eye. While he was specifically referring to business planning software, I think the same can be said about all technology.

Recently, I’ve been reflecting on the role of technology in my life. Often, we lose sight of how simple technology should be because we want it to do our work for us. We’re less mindful of the task at hand and more concerned with what apps, sites, or programs will help us do it. My goal for the New Year was to stop looking to technology to help me get work done and instead see if technology could simply help me form better habits.

Spoiler: It didn’t work.

Often, I get so swept up in a stream of tasks that, by the end of the day, I have no idea what I’ve accomplished. I know I was busy and got things done, but I’m not sure what exactly I’ve checked off my list. This year, I was hopeful that technology could help me keep track of my activities and remind me of certain key goals, like writing one blog post per week and actually taking a break during the day.

So I signed up for just about every habit-forming app and website out there. Guess what? They didn’t form the habits for me. Here we are, almost through the first month of 2013, and I’m on my first blog post. I’ve gotten up for a stretch break at work a whopping one time. Whether the browser app reminded me to get up for 20 minutes or not, I was still distracted by what I was doing at the moment. In fact, I’d argue that using technology to remind me to complete certain tasks was the largest distraction of them all!

The more time I spend taking inventory of my productivity and habits, the less I seem to get stuff done. Being busy, getting distracted, and signing up for sites and apps may trick me into thinking I’m more productive. But simply being mindful of what I’m doing and sticking with good habits actually lets me accomplish more.

To be more productive in 2013, my real challenge will be to put less pressure on technology to get me to do work and instead focus on the work itself.

What distractions in your life are preventing you from becoming your most productive self? Have you found simple technology tools that help you be more aware and more productive?

Topics: Technology

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