Last week I attended a “Life Maximizers” seminar in London run by Microsoft. As the title suggests it was about how we are maximising our lives using the latest technologies. And as a result how our family and work life is becoming blurred at the edges and how fantastic this is.
Now if you read my newsletter you will know my view is a little sceptical on that front. And although generally I try not to repeat my newsletters in my posts, I think some repetition is probably warranted here.
Yes, new technologies have revolutionised the way we live and have allowed us to pack much more into each day. And there are some obvious examples, like being able to do the families weekly shop online, while we watch TV, or check the web cam at nursery to see what our child is up to, while at work, but I am not convinced that these amazing technologies have necessarily improved the quality of families’ lives generally.
In a way technology is a little like money. It is a good servant but a bad master.
Now like most stuff in life, moderation is good, and addiction does not happen in one day. So becoming aware of whether technology is working for us and being a good servant, or against us and being a very bad master is probably more important than we think for both us and our families.
So is the dark side of technology threatening you?
The thing to be aware of is that technology can in itself be time consuming.It can suck us into using precious personal time, doing stuff which is either not important, or can wait until tomorrow morning, without us scarcely realising it.
Email, text and Facebook are great – but drive us towards compulsive tendencies. Checking what has hit our In Box every ten minutes, even last thing at night, or texting a friend on the mobile, while we are putting the kids to bed maybe tempting, but is it really a healthy way to live on a day to day basis?
And more importantly, there is a danger that this constant multi tasking or time splicing, (the new hip word), alongside a high level of activity can eventually lead to burn out and stress, which in turn can cause tension with our personal relationships and families. So the very beneficiaries of all our efforts end up suffering.
So what can we do get make sure we are controlling technology and it is not controlling us?
Well first of all remember technology is not just your computer or browsing the web it could be the automatic timer on your oven, or your mobile phone integrating your to do list and calendar.
Ask yourself what technology is already in your home that you do not use to its full advantage? How can it help you operate more effectively?
Work out how much time you spend using technology usefully. And then stick to it.
Remember not to be on call to technology. Learn how to say No nicely. That may mean not responding to emails or using the answer phone at particular times of the day.
Be assertive with yourself, others around you and technology.
Take time out to reflect on life, away from technology. These quiet moments are often when you will get inspiration and ideas.
Get out into the fresh air. Have a no PC/ mobile phone / technology day, if you feel you and your family are living too much in the virtual world.
Finally, to maximise your life you have to be disciplined about your time, otherwise it does not matter how much technology, multi tasking, or time splicing you do, your life will be maxed out not maximised.
And don’t forget as the latest technologies appear over the horizon, they may make a great replacement man servant but a Darth Vader of a bad master.