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Working the Low Tech Way

We’ve been conditioned to believe that technology is the solution to our productivity problems. Not so! Stepping away from your technology for a day can make you more productive.

By
Stever Robbins,
April 22, 2013
Episode #263

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Working the Low Tech Way

They say you can’t take it with you. They’re wrong. You can take it with you. It’s the future! We take our work with us on our laptops and work from anywhere, even the park, surrounded by cute woodland creatures who frolick in the grass as we luxuriate in the freedom and productivity of our futuristic lifestyle.

We can use portable electronic devices for truly revolutionary tasks: They can transmit documents, send text messages, snap pictures of important news stories, and create a web of knowledge that puts the Library of Alexandria to shame. We should be walking around more productive than ever, getting stuff done at an unprecedented rate. But we’re not.

Instead, we’re sending cat pictures, reading rumors about Justin Bieber’s impending emotional implosion, and writing status updates about our digestive system’s reaction to the sloppy joe we just ate for lunch. Our productivity software is helpfully full of ads, and even the most serious documents are hyperlinked to blog posts promising to reveal 8 Reasons Kim Kardashian Should Wax Her Nose Hairs. Technology has made us reactive, scattered, and distracted. And we are. The most common thing people tell me is that they’re distracted, overwhelmed, and can’t find the time or space to focus. Yay, technology!

We need to turn our technology back into a productivity tool. But how?

Dropbox Saves the Day

A few months ago, I was raving to a friend about Dropbox. “It’s this amazing tool that lets me keep my laptop and desktop in sync. How did I ever live without it?” Then I realized most of my life was spent without Dropbox. I took my work with me without Dropbox. How was that possible? How could I be so productive without Dropbox? What was my secret?

Did I have a more expensive laptop? Better WiFi? Speedier web browsers? Actually, no. I had a spiral notebook, a .5mm Pilot “Shaker” mechanical pencil, and Staedtler plastic eraser. And yet I got everything done, no matter where I was.

It’s true, I didn’t have access to email, or the web, or Facebook, but when I really think about it, those are the sources of distraction, reactivity, and chaos. When it comes to what I needed for my job, it was low-tech all the way.

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