One of my personal goals for this year is to streamline processes and develop systems for staying organized and managing tasks. I am already an organized person, and through the years, I have tried to run my offices like well-oiled machines so that I can give the most value to my clients. As an attorney and mediator, I am constantly looking for ways to further reduce inefficiencies in the civil cases I handle so I can reduce stress and costs. 

My solution for productivity has been to have quality hard-working people around me and to utilize quality tech tools, whether they are hardware or software, or whether they exist locally or are cloud-based. Some of the most important tools I use at the law and mediation office are Google Workspace (formerly G Suite), Zoom and Zoom Phone, Mycase, Windows PCs (Surface line), and quality Android Phones (my law partner loves MacBooks and iPhones, but I will not hold it against her). Whatever tools I use, I try to keep their total number as low as possible. This is one of my tips, and I will explain more on why later.

The Problem  

A problem I have seen occur in recent years is how tech tools that are there to help us manage our personal and professional lives, are beginning to in fact layer up complexities, which make simple things more complicated, and introduce unnecessary steps to basic procedures. The problem as I see it is one where technological solutions start to overwhelm us, rather than serve us.  The slow creep of having too many “helpful” tools start making us more inefficient and more at risk for feeling that our tech tools are running our lives, rather than helping us simplify them. Simply put, if not managed properly, our tech tools can start inducing stress and promote a low quality of life.

Just like the feeling one gets of never being able to reach the bottom of their endless social media feed (if they care), or the feeling a worker has when 2000 unread emails continues to stare back at her day-after-day, the sprawl of unmanaged, ineffective technology usage in a person’s life may leave them feeling unsatisfied, ineffective, and overwhelmed. Add to that the nauseating feeling that all that endless information you just “have to get to” may (is) being used to spy on you in order to sell to you. 

I am writing this article because if you have read this far, like me you may be fascinated by technology, love gizmos and futuristic tools, especially in how they can help you stay on top of business. However, you also  realize that the longer we continue participating in this digital revolution, the more evident it is to you that there’s no conductor at the wheel of all this technological progress, and that we are on our own when it comes to making sense of what technology is, how it can help us, and what the limits are  of its involvement in our lives.  You understand that there is an ever-thinning line between technology usage that can help a person, and one that can hurt them. You may never be one who would  sell their  kidney for an iPad, but you realize that mindlessly increasing the usage of tech tools in your life is not necessarily going to solve your productivity and efficiency problems, and that mismanaged usage of technological tools can actually induce stress and make us worse off professionally and personally.

Some Simple Tips

1. Reduce the number of tech tools you use. 

An important step in taking control of your digital life is lowering the tech tools you use so you only use what you need. 

To write this article, I made sure that I used only the Google Docs file where this draft resides, my Google Chrome browser to research and paste the draft into a  natural reader window to check my language, and my WordPress website to publish the post (along with a photo from Pexels.com). After using these 3 Google and WordPress tools, all I had left to do was publish it to my social media outlets. 

Reducing the tools you use will ensure you’re working in just a few tech ecosystems, rather than having to integrate multiple platforms. If a couple tools can get the job done to draft and publish, why add redundancy to the process.

 Limiting the tools you use will also help ensure you maximize usage of all the features of those tools. Have you used the Voice Typing tool in Google Docs? If you are on a desktop, it can be extremely helpful to speed up your work. Or what about Grammarly for Chrome to double check your grammar as you work? Staying within the Chrome browser to execute the entire process of getting this article out lets me do it in record time in one sit down, with as few distractions as possible.

Return next week for more on how you can be productive through technology without going crazy because of it.