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Use a Technology Audit to Tame Your Technology

Rather than assuming your technology is what's helping you be productive, doing a technology audit might show that sometimes, it's the biggest obstacle to productivity. Get-It-Done Guy shows you how to investigate.

By
Stever Robbins,
Episode #331

It's that time of year again: Apple just released a new set of iPhones and iOS, and everyone's going bonkers! This is the Next. Big. Thing! 4.7" big. That's Big.

Of course, we said it was the Next. Big. Thing. last year, too. And the year before, and the year before that, and so on...until back before most of you were born. And even though This New Device Will Finally Make Our Lives Perfect, we thought that about the last device. We thought the amazing new iPhone touch screen would make our lives perfect. It didn't. Size matters, but not when it comes to electronic screens.

Since I've been in high-tech, we've revolutionized business. Productivity is at an all-time high! But for those of us who aren't businesses, technology rarely delivers true increases in happiness or quality of life. I work more hours, have less vacation, fewer in-person friends, and less substantive conversations than I used to.

You see, my charmingly curmudgeonly attitude comes from one simple fact: I actually pay attention to whether or not technology delivers on its promise.e

Technology is Killing Your Brain

We have data on the effects of technology. The marketing departments of Silicon Valley want you to believe that technology gives us amazing new capabilities, and that It frees up parts of our brain, which then make us mental giants.

Wrong. They are lying. Research shows more and more that technology is destroying our ability to think. It is not freeing up parts of our brain to do grand new things. That logic was always silly. If you don't use your legs, they don't suddenly turn into wings just because you're not using them for walking. Instead, they atrophy. The parts of your brain that are being displaced by technology aren't giving you telepathy, they're giving you dementia. We're literally making ourselves stupider by using technology.

Let's review: If you rely too much on GPS, your ability to navigate via mental maps deteriorates and goes away. If you take notes on a laptop or tablet, your retention and integration of the material will be far less than if you take notes---even incomplete ones---with a pad and paper. Reading eBooks from a screen instead of physical books decreases your memory of what you've read. And when you take smartphone pictures to capture memories, your brain doesn't bother to encode the picture in your own visual memory; it assumes the phone did it for you.

Multitasking (supposedly the most-requested feature for the iPhone) is worst of all: it degrades cognitive functioning along every dimension measured. First to go is the ability to assess whether or not your cognition is being degraded.

I've consciously decided not to link to the above studies in this episode. Use Google. Do the research yourself instead of having someone hand you the links. You'll find the studies. Having Google available has led surprisingly few of us to bother using the internet to verify or research things. Our brains assume that because the world's knowledge is easily accessible, we must have use of it already. That actual detail of looking it up, reading, and understanding seems so unnecessary.

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