Does Technology Ease Work?

81% of U.S. professionals say they work harder today than they did five years ago–because of technology. —Entrepreneur Magazine

I seem to recall that when the “computer age” hit the main stream we were told that our work would get much easier. Computers would do all the work; we would become a paperless society and the 30-hour (or less) workweek was just around the corner. What happened?

Well, if we take a look at the typical U.S. Professional’s inventory of time-consuming technology, would we find?

  • Multiple computers–at work and home (including a laptop they lug back and forth to work).
  • Backlogs of emails on their computers–much of it spam or just unnecessary.
  • Skype–with video, so they can see callers when they chat.
  • Several social media accounts on their computers, or iPhone, or Blackberry.
  • Multiple cell phones (at least one of which is an iPhone, Blackberry, or other media phone).
  • Backlogs of text messages.
  • MP3 players (at least 2)
  • Multiple televisions (at least one HD).
  • DVR’s.
  • DVD/VCR players (with all the associated media to catalog)
  • Wiis.
  • Video game players (and the required latest game).
  • Kindle, or other book reader.
  • Fax machine (they still seem to be a necessity).
  • Miscellaneous gadget accessories.
  • The next new gadget that comes along…

Then, of course, there is the whole social media gambit. This technological arena consumes more and more of a person’s time, and today much of it is business related, so now it is nearly impossible to know when this activity is necessary for work or just another meaningless demand on an already overloaded schedule.

Many of the technical gadgets allow their owners to use them like an extension of their office–ergo; their owners never “leave the office.” Consequently, it is difficult to tell whether a person is “working” at home or just interacting with more technical gadgets.

No wonder so many U.S. professionals work harder today than they did five years ago–technology has stolen part of their daily lives.

Does anyone relate to this situation?

7 thoughts on “Does Technology Ease Work?”

  1. Good post, Bob. It’s funny how the things that are supposed to make our life easier often complicate it. I guess it’s really about us, isn’t it?

    How we manage ourselves and what our daily calendars look like and how we make things happen within it. I tend not to get terribly bogged down with this or that technology. though I have working knowledge of many.

    Some technology has more interest than others. But no amount of technology will do what it is we must do in order to make our lives less complicated; this usually includes actually dealing with people and not technology.

    Judith Ellis’s last blog post..Being Super Rich

  2. Judith – Thanks for the comment. You are right in saying it is really about us. In this crazy world of technology, we all need to be more focused and disciplined; we need to take better care of our “self.”

    I just read the other day that our work tools and social tools have become so intertwined that everyone is having trouble trying to keep the two separated.

    Bob Foster’s last blog post..Does Technology Ease Work?

  3. Bob – I think that there should be a distinction between work tools and social tools, if for no other reason than to distinguish appropriate language and decorum. I especially worry about this with regards to the training of our young people. There is a time and place for everything.

    Judith Ellis’s last blog post..Being One or the Other

  4. Boy – can I ever relate to this!

    Not only am I in the business of technology as my work (computer graphics book author/speaker) but because I do rely on the social media networking for business, I am also always busy designing my web site and Blog and updating it, making sure I have new a relevant content for it, my FaceBook, LinkedIn and Plaxo accounts, as well as a post or two a day on my Twitter account. I know several people who actually pay others to do much of this for them, but I’m not at that level yet – plus it’s hard for me to leave something that seems so personal up to someone else to do for me.

    So – in addition to marketing myself, negotiating clients and contracts for work, doing all my social networking (iPhone, Mac Book, Desktop, etc.) – somehow I still manage to actually squeeze a few hours in a night to get some WORK done too!!

    Now if someone can figure out a way that we can “connect” while we’re sleeping, then I’m pulling the plug!

  5. Judith – If we think of “tools” as products, it is difficult to separate work tools from social tools, because they are used for both on a regular basis. If we think of “tools” as functions, and we have the choice of using a work function or a social function on the same tool–then we come right back to the need for discipline, and the fact that the choice is up to us.

    It worries me that the more tools and functions we get, the less we personally interact with real people.

    Thanks for your comment–you always make us think.

    Bob Foster’s last blog post..Does Technology Ease Work?

  6. Jeff – Many of us have choices about how much time we spend with our technology. For people like you who are totally immersed in technology as the main tools of your work, there is no choice–you are constantly interacting with most of the technological gadgets available. You likely couldn’t do your job without them.

    The need to use all this technology makes it even more difficult to separate work activities from social activities. Personally, I have a difficult time doing that, because my curiosity won’t allow it. I struggle terribly even with email–I will open an email, and an hour later (and 20 or 30 urls) I am deep in reading some obscure bit of information that has absolutely nothing to do with business. I am an information addict, and for that reason I have withheld using Twitter. Goodness knows how much time I would spend lost in that realm.

    Thanks for the comment, and if you have the focus and discipline to separate work functions from social functions, my hat is off to you.

    Bob Foster’s last blog post..Does Technology Ease Work?

  7. Bob – Perhaps it is also how tools are used. Email, for example, can be used in a array of ways as well as cell phones. I heard recently of kids sending illicit photos taken on their cell phones to friends and later seeing the same photos on the Internet.

    I remember one day at around 2 in the morning being awaken by receiving 4 such photos mistakeningly in rapid succession. This is what awoke me. I texted the gentleman back to tell him that I think he missed a number of two. I did not hear from him again. The amazing thing was these photos included his face. He was not a kid.

    Judith Ellis’s last blog post..Being in Black Face VI

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