Itâ€™s something that Iâ€™ve been thinking about recently. For how much all these nifty tools have helped us become more productive, I think there is a percentage of creativity or inspiration that we give up. All productivity tools are things that can do harm to our work habits as much as they simplify a task.
Maybe itâ€™s that most of these tools are single-task automation or simplification utilities and from that perspective are inefficient solutions. Take a close look at all your â€œsocial mediaâ€ or â€œWeb 2.0â€ tools and services â€“ I bet most really only solve one real task with a few frivolous extras sprinkled on top.
Iâ€™m not sure what to do about this, but I look at my productivity today and compare it to a year ago. Back then I was chewing through thousands more feeds, had more ideas and, it seems, more time to write posts for my blog.
Today, I have client software installed that automatically checks my Twitter and FriendFeed accounts for updates. It notifies me with a pleasant tone that triggers me to quickly switch windows and check out the latest possible news like a rabbit hitting the feeder bar for a food pellet.
How is this productive? How is this helping me? I have Twhirl updating the main Twitter feed every 2 minutes â€“ how many times am I interrupted in an hour? Right. 30! Think about that. Now add FriendFeed into the mix on its own (similar) updates schedule. How many times can you be interrupted in a day without losing focus?
Now I donâ€™t mean to beat up on Twitter and FriendFeed â€“ heck, I can come up with dozens of reasons why they help more than hinder my daily life. Email used to be the same. I used to use Microsoft Outlook. If the computer was on, so was Outlook â€“ and what was that nice feature introduced in Outlook 2003? Pop-up notificationâ€¦ great. So that is where that bad habit was developed for me. Since changing to web-based email about three months ago, I find myself checking email much less often. Iâ€™m no less effective or timely in my communication either.
So itâ€™s really how we use the tools â€“ their convenience allows us to lean on them for help. Sometimes a little too much. As weâ€™re creatures of habit itâ€™s up to us to develop, groom, and manage those habits. If we start developing bad habits, itâ€™s ourselves that needs to correct them.
So thatâ€™s what I personally need to do. Simply change how I use Twitter and FriendFeed. There are others, but those are the two that I really need to manage my time with the most.
How about you? What are your tricks & tips in managing these productivity tools?
Photo credit: Kate Tomlinson