I love new technologies. Not only that, I use them to enhance my life in multiple ways, both personally and professionally. It is my firm belief that it is impossible (or fast becoming so) for any business leader to max out his or her own personal potential, or the potential of his or her business, without embracing technology. But as good as technology is, it can take over.
If you don't tame the technology, and especially, the social media beast, it can become the master of your life, and if that happens, both you and your business are doomed. Technology must be the slave, and you must be its master. One need only look as far as yesterday's headline about a Jacksonville, FL, woman who allegedly shook her baby to death because he would not stop crying while she was playing Farmville on FaceBook to see the importance of this principle.
Do you ever find yourself wondering whether you are a slave to technology, or whether you are making technology is your slave? Asking yourself these questions may help you discover the answer:
Do you use push notifications? Push notifications allow FaceBook, Twitter, Gmail and other online tools to automatically “push” notifications to you when someone wants to connect with you. If you enable them, there's a chance that you are prone to becoming a slave to technology.
If you use FaceBook, etc., that's great. But check it when you are ready. Check for comments to your status updates, replies to your Tweets, etc., only when you are ready to do so. If you are in business, this generally means scheduling it in. Don't leave it to chance that you'll “have time” to stay in touch with customers and other important stakeholders. Stay in touch, but do it on your agenda, not the everyone else's.
Do you get “sucked in” on a regular basis? I don't just mean now and again, or on weekends when you have some real discretionary time. What I mean is, do you find yourself going on FaceBook to do one or two things, only to look up hours later and find yourself playing Farmville or commenting on every blog post ever written by the Internet guru you follow.
None of these things are bad. In fact, they can be helpful if they in fact add something to your life. But if you don't control the amount of time you participate in these activities, you'll find yourself supporting every business but your own.
Set your smart phone and time yourself. Heck, use an egg timer if you must. Maintain control.
Do you have difficulty focusing on your priorities? Do you find yourself chugging along toward some goal, when suddenly, you pick up your Blackberry because you must know right now whether or not someone has replied to your Tweet? Has anyone commented on my latest blog post? Did my follower count increase or decrease after my last Tweet? Did anyone reply? Do I have more FaceBook Likers now than I did 30 minutes ago? Did that person reply to my email message yet? Has anyone Stumbled my amazing blog post? How many more cows do I have to milk in Farmville to win a prize or something? (Side question: Is that how it works? Wait, I don't want to know …)
If this sounds like you, then you have allowed technology to compromise your productivity. It has been permitted to come directly between you and the goals you want to achieve, and that's not good for you, your business, or even for society as a whole.
Now don't get me wrong. I'm not talking about the occasional diversion here. What I mean is the habitual, unrestrained urge to stop what you are doing to check in with technology and the other people who are using it.
Technology is like money. It's neither good nor bad. But it can be used for good, and it can be used for bad.
You must guard your time at least as closely as you guard your pocket book, especially when it comes to the time you spend or invest (there is a difference, but that's for another post) engaging with and in technology.
Do you have a calendar? Of course you do. Schedule in technology just like you schedule in your hair cut, pedicure, or annual physical. Set your smart phone to time yourself once you get started so you have an external, unbiased reminder that it's time to stop.
You either set the agenda or the agenda will set you. When the latter happens, not only will your business suffer, but so will you.
Question: Is technology your slave, or are you a slave to technology?