Accelerating Culture

Why Technology Is Making Us Less Productive

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Now I don’t know about you, but on any given day, I find myself using more websites, apps and tools, essentially a lot of technology.

Whether you are writing, proofreading, collecting data or note-taking, each piece of technology is designed to improve your efficiency in some way or another. But is this really the case?

And could it be that the tools we use every day are actually making us less productive?

Well, the short answer is yes and the longer answer is a bit more nuanced. Here are some of the issues that technology overload brings up – and how we can attempt to solve them:

Tech Can Be Disruptive

It’s very easy to think of technology as a great way to ramp up productivity.  But our digital devices can also be hugely distracting – a ‘ping’ here, a ‘buzz’ there – leading to a constant stream of interruptions.

The average office worker is interrupted every three minutes.

All of this distraction has clear negative consequences – lower productivity, poorer quality work, even missed deadlines. So what’s the solution?

It’s well-known that taking regular breaks throughout the workday helps with productivity. During these breaks, it’s helpful to find activities that boost energy levels and give your mind a break, such as taking a walk or reading a few pages of a non-work-related book.

Having set times to check messages and catch up on emails can also help us to delegate time more effectively, so we don’t feel pressured to look every time we get a notification.

We’re Spreading Ourselves Too Thin.

It’s easy to lose your focus when you’ve got loads of apps on the go, so make sure that you focus on the core ones that are going to give you the best return on investment when it comes to time spent.

Marketers lose up to five hours per week managing and operating apps to get their jobs done. 

Most online stores only need about five good apps to manage basic tasks like customer support, inventory management, and advanced analytics.

The solution?

  1. Start by writing down all of the tools, apps, and extensions you’re using regularly
  2. Place them into categories.
  3. Ask yourself what’s essential
  4. Determine what you can consolidate

It’s all about finding ways of working that work for you and choosing the apps that have the best functionalities in terms of the tasks you need to do.

We’re Communicating Too Much – and Too Little

Technology makes it very easy for us to communicate with one another:

According to this report:

  • Email usage has increased from 12% to 16%
  • Productive meetings has increased from 10% to 11%
  • Wasteful meetings increased from 8% to 10%

Our colleagues can interrupt us without ever having to physically arrive at our desks. Instant chat expects an instant response – you can be impatient with one another when requests aren’t met with immediate attention.

How can we get around this?

The respondents in the above report suggest incorporating:

  1. Uninterrupted blocks of time
  2. Implementing set times for speaking to colleagues
  3. Set periods of ‘quiet time

The ‘Techno-Stressed’.

The problem with having being constantly connected is that we end up feeling tied to our devices, often leading to a lack of differentiation between work and home life.

When frequently expected to multitask, the end result will actually mean getting nothing done.

The more time we spend attempting to stay on top of all our tasks, tools and notifications, the less time we have to actually focus on productive work.

What’s the answer?

We Must Use Technology Wisely.

As a civilization all of us have benefitted from the use of technology.

This is because technology allows us to work faster, smarter, and better.

In order for startups to leverage technology, we have to use the right tools and apply them in the right way:

  • Email marketing software gives you access to a deep range of data on your clients, enabling you to design your marketing campaigns and increase your ROI.
  • SaaS products – Using this technology means that you can create a professional website for your online business without need to employ a web developer and sort out your finances without the need for a bookkeeper.
  • AI – So many of your day-to-day admin tasks can just be passed off to a bot that completes them on time, freeing you up to focus on the core skills that only you bring to your business.
  • VR/AR – There’s a vast array of things that these technologies can help you with. For example, you can add 3D models of your products to your online store.

In summary, remember to ensure that technology is benefiting your business and workers by asking:

  1. Question whether a new app or tool is a genuinely good investment – will it actually save time?
  2. Are you using a bandaid solution to solve a bigger issue in the company?
  3. If so, is there a better and more long-lasting way to address the problem?

Collaborative technologies can be a wonderful thing, but we need to be smart about which tools we use, and why. Otherwise, the effect can end up being quite the opposite to the one we intended.


Patrick Foster is a writer and e-commerce expert from E-commerce Tips — an industry-leading e-commerce blog that offers practical marketing advice so your online business receives the exposure it deserves. On my blog you’ll find articles covering influence, social media, and content marketing. Check out the latest posts on Twitter @myecommercetips.

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