Let’s face it, I’m a geek. Some might say nerd. (If you need clarification, check out this infographic and decide for yourself.)
Any way you slice it, there’s a stereotype out there that accurately describes me, and you can be sure it covers my never-ending fascination with and use of gadgets. Smartphones, iPads, portable computers of varying sizes and types – you name it, I’ve probably owned at least one of them. As a result, I’m not afraid to use them in just about any situation. They make me more productive in a lot of ways, so it’s hardly unusual for me to be tapping on my phone or iPad at any given time.
And this is not necessarily a fabulous thing. While such behavior might be making me more productive, what about those around me?
I’ve stepped back from myself to take a more objective look at my behaviors and tendencies. As a result, I’ve learned two lessons about gadget usage over the past few weeks, which have caused me to change my approach to a few things.
We’ve all heard this before – use the right tool for the job. I haven’t worn a wristwatch in several years. When I’m at my desk, I use the clock on the computer. When mobile, my smartphone had a clock on it (and a calendar, my contacts and a bunch of other stuff I was always viewing). As a result, when I wanted to check the time, I pulled out my phone.
This creates two problems:
- When I’m around others, the action of looking at my phone – even if it’s just to check the time – is noticed. It’s not far-fetched to assume that some might take such an action as an insult, as if to say “well, obviously I’m not very interesting to you if you keep looking at your phone.” And then maybe swear at me, if only mentally. This is happening whether it’s intended or not.
- If I check the time on my phone, and I do notice something (an e-mail message, a text or some other notification), it creates a distraction for me. That distraction leads to a lesser degree of engagement with those around me, again resulting in that mental swearing.
The short version – it’s rude, and I know better. So I’m wearing a watch again, for the first time in a long time. Because it’s the right tool for the job.
I love my iPad. I use it for a lot of things. One of my favorite uses is for taking notes in meetings. I capture everything electronically, I can search it, sort it, yadda, yadda, yadda. Which is all well and good – except when your use of the iPad becomes a distraction. Again, two problems that jump right out at me:
- Not everyone has an iPad, so they’re curious as to what I’m doing and how I’m doing it. If they’re looking at me, they’re not paying attention. So while it may be helping my productivity, it’s killing everyone else’s. That’s not fair to either the meeting chair or the cause/project on which the meeting was based.
- A lot of meetings that I attend are bad meetings – meaning they’re not organized, poorly run or just plain serve little meaningful purpose. In those cases, it’s very easy for boredom to set in. A device like an iPad is the antidote to boredom, so I’ll start checking e-mail or doing something else. As a result, I’m again creating that distraction for others (welcome or otherwise).
The short version here – my quest for higher productivity was creating distractions for others, which in turn drags down overall productivity and participation. I still take my iPad to meetings and other events, but I now write my notes out on paper and transcribe them later. Doing so may take more time, but my recall abilities are better for the extra effort.
So while the gadgetry is great (and I’m still very much a fan), believe it or not there are still times where the old fashioned way works. Not only does it work, it’s right way to do it.