Today’s companies are producing goods and offering services in ways that 25 years ago were unthinkable. And the same will be true in another quarter century. While this fact may be mind-blowing, it implies that talent must keep in step with changing technologies. Whether it be apps, software, computers, meetings or projects that you are asked to manage, working to full your potential means successfully handling these tools.
Likewise, not working to the best of your ability means falling short of your possible personal productivity. If the workplace is continuously changing, so are the expectations placed on talent. Starting now, they are directly experiencing market pressure.
Take the example of Mark Zuckerberg. CEO of the largest social media platform yet conceived – Facebook – Zuckerberg is also known for having a very particular way of working. In fact, testimonies of people working under him all agree on one thing: Mark Zuckerberg has tapped into his personal productivity, while also maintaining a healthy work-life balance. How, you ask? Let’s have a closer look.
Making the best of Technologies
Modern technology was invented for a very good reason: it helps us be more efficient when completing tasks that used to take much of our time. Maura Thomas, an expert in personal productivity, maintains that technology is a resource that should free our brains from remembering meetings and tasks. The ability to create reminders, recall details, and of course, carry around to-do lists allows you to control when and where you will start caring about a task.
The role of technology is not limited to individual productivity. It also brings people together. You can now easily share your calendar, your tasks, and even your current projects with colleagues and clients using web-based applications like Google Docs. Tapping into this communicative aspect of technology will help you get direct feedback from those around you and better tailor your work to the needs of your company.
Of course, technology is also known, and rightly so, to be disruptive. Notifications from corporate social media, emails and texts, combine to generate a never-ending flow of information that can ultimately kill your productivity. By always being reachable, you expose yourself to professional demands that seep into your private life. Mark Zuckerberg’s secret is not that he works 24/7. On the contrary, his ability to disconnect from work outside of the workplace lies at the heart of his productivity. Here are a few tips on how to disconnect when not at work:
- Turn off your email server when you leave work. Late emails will only help increase the pressure to your private space and decrease your productivity in the workplace.
- Centralize all of your notifications in one space. If you feel overwhelmed by the amount of information you must deal with on an everyday basis, combine it all into one list of tasks. This will not only help you to visualize your tasks in terms of content and time required.
- Understand that technology is now part of your work. Writing and answering emails is a job in itself and can take up to two hours a day. What’s more, the regular interruptions caused by email notifications tremendously decrease your ability to be efficient. Take some time in the morning and in the afternoon to properly answer your emails. Find a system that will allow people to get in touch with you with urgent requests if needed. This could be instant messaging or phone calls.
Attention Management for Personal Growth
This new way of dealing with technology has to do with a very particular type of personal growth: attention management. Technology has improved our ability to manage time, but it has increasingly distracted us and shortened our attention span. By being constantly connected to many different channels of information, it is difficult to focus on only one, especially if the others seem even remotely relevant to what we are focusing on. This is what we call the lion syndrome, which is when we become distracted by a multitude of tasks. Like a lion distressed by a lion tamer, we retreat when overwhelmed.
However, as Maura Thomas puts it, controlling your attention means that you’re ultimately controlling your experiences and thus your life. But how can you focus in today’s world of constant communication?
- Start by understanding that it is not merely spending time with a person that matters. It’s the amount of time that you spend truly devoting your attention to them that counts.
- Multitasking is not your friend. If you want to focus fully on your tasks, work on them individually and in order of importance. This will help you to efficiently tap into your talents.
- Eliminate the clutter – everywhere. Technology has not necessarily reduced the amount of paper you must deal with. Paper clutter on your desk can have a detrimental effect to your ability to think and organize yourself mentally, as well as focus on your current work.
Alexander Graham Bell himself once said, “The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus”. By understanding technology for what it is, a tool that is meant to help you but can steal your attention from the task at hand, you will be able to find ways to counter that effect. You will ultimately reach your potential for personal productivity all the while finding a balance in your personal and professional life, just like CEO Mark Zuckerberg.