June 12, 2018

Using Technology to Generate Extra Free Time

Sometimes I feel like technology gobbles up more time than it gives us. Ideally, technology should help us and to some extent, free up some of our precious time. Not the other way around.

For many, having a portable phone or computer only makes them more incline to work. Being available 24/7 can really become a nightmare. In that sense, you can often even become a slave to technology, always connected and reachable for a question that probably could have waited for the next morning or at least, for a more suitable moment in your already hectic schedule.

Be careful not to get hooked up by the latest cool phone. It often comes with its fair share of increased work-related expectations along with a solid dose of distraction. Some distractions can be relaxing but most can only make you waste time. It the end, being distracted will affect your performance and possibly amplify your stress level.

People that view technology as a magic solution and expect it will tackle on all the work for them will be deceived.

Despite these reservations, technology can still be a great tool that can immensely help get things done if you learn to use it the proper way.   

Study Evaluate and Configure Technology Possibly as Your Friend

If technology chews up a lot of your energy and time, you should get rid of it as it may not be your friend. However, you sometimes may have to invest some time and be patient before technology becomes an ally. With experience, you should learn to judge if any technology will eventually be suitable to help you over time. As you would judge someone’s character, you should give a chance only to technology that potentially could improve your efficiency.

Cool technological gadgets that look good at first glance may not be that useful in the end. Remember that effective technology won’t necessarily come in the form of a chill toy. Don’t get caught up and waste time with too many of these gadgets and gimmicks. In a flash, they can easily seduce you but might also pose security issues.

With technology, you absolutely have to make security a priority. Consider that fluid accessibility often comes with substantial security risks. Try to keep a relative balance between easy and safe.

As you learn about new technology, you should look to configure it to suit your needs and try to automate things as much as possible. Technology can often facilitate matters, but it would be unrealistic to think it will accomplish all the work for you.

For years, we have been living a classic example of this at the office. We are always changing our inventory software as management thinks the new one will be more accurate than the last one. Basically, any inventory software will gather an important chunk of the desire data by automatically scanning our network. The problem is that it will never be perfect, and you will have to make corrections along the way. Some of the data will also have to be input manually. Additionally, humans will eventually have to make adjustments as changes occur. The problem is almost never the software. Most of the time, it’s all about the information we give it to process. In the end, any well configured and maintained software would always work better.

In this day and age, a ton of information is at our fingertips. The problem is not getting access to information anymore. It has transformed into having access to too much information. The trick is getting your hands, or in many cases now, your eyes, on only relevant credible information that can truly help you.

In that sense, you should try, for one thing, to avoid being overwhelmed by too many messages and notifications. 


One good place to start when you want to avoid wasting time with technology is your electronic mail system. Many people struggle all day to keep up with a continuous flow of new messages and at some point, can barely tolerate the annoying corresponding notification sound. In the end, they often miss vital information buried in trivial correspondence and spam.

We’ve already talked about Improving Email Management a few years back. An important key still is having an appropriate filing system.

Likewise, using email rules can greatly help you process and sort out incoming messages. That way, you can quickly trash junk while filing or pointing out more relevant messages. Just be careful not to skip significant notifications by filing them automatically. A good trick is to leave them unread despite filing them.

Another thing our family does via email is to monitor our credit card activities. With most cards, it’s easy to setup your account to be notified about your transactions. We also like to use weekly balance alerts. They act as a reminder to validate our outstanding balance. It only takes us a few seconds to reconciliate it with operations preciously imputed in our Excel budget worksheet.   

One more email technique we like is transferring relevant and important stuff to one central account. It’s not even necessary to publish or provide that key address to anybody. You can just automatically forward important messages to that private address. For security and privacy purpose, several dummy addresses can be used as a buffer to isolate sensitive access and information.

Social Media

Social media is another technological beast you have to tame. If you are not careful enough, in what may appear like an instant, it can suck up a big chunk of your time and energy.

But in today’s digital world, social media is a must to remain competitive and productive. It’s a great way to build and maintain a network. Just make sure to interact with real physical beings once in a while.

It’s also a quick and easy technique to get your hands on useful tips and references. You should use it as a tool that helps simplify your life. Again, be sure to validate the quality and source of the information provided.

In your organisation, choose and impose 2 or 3 technological communication means. Your people will waste a lot of time and won’t be able to keep up if you use 10 different platforms. Also train them to effectively use social media. Make sure they learn to prioritize as it’s never possible to thoroughly read and access all information available.

Give employees a little leeway to use social media on a personal level as long as it doesn’t interfere with their work too much. It will help them develop essential skills that will translate into more productivity in the end.


In the same fashion, videoconferencing is a great modern tool to improve efficiency. This relatively recent way to communicate signifies you don’t have to physically go to every meeting. It probably means meeting more often but for shorter periods of time becomes possible and much more practical.

You can even reach a colleague for a quick question. That person can be in the adjacent office or at the other end of the world. Your visual interaction can easily include shared platforms or documents.

Videoconferencing probably requires some investment. Considering what most of us already have like a digital device and internet access, it can easily be available and remain affordable adding only basic headsets and webcams.

It still a lot cheaper than maintaining big conference rooms. It also can reduce travel expenses and training costs. All in all, videoconferencing can help save valuable time and resources.

Once more, and as with social media, we will warm you not to abuse it. Occasional direct human interaction is essential to your balance and mental health. Furthermore, videoconferencing can be practical and fun, but it won’t get you that far if you only do that all day. At some point, you will have to actually work and accomplish related tasks.

One more point. We believe punctuality is very important for any meeting and especially using videoconferencing. A lot of time can be wasted waiting for others. Late participants kind of dilute the benefits of well planned and organised videoconferences.

Make punctuality a priority and an essential practice in your organisation. Being punctual is respectful of others and will often equate to better performance.

Speaking of good practices, let’s now discuss some of which we like to focus on.

Documentation and Tasks

Be methodical. Document your processes. Especially what’s particular to your organisation. Develop a defined method that will help your whole team. Your actual team in place now, but also your future team, that will emerge in several months or even years.

Don’t suppose everybody knows about something if you read it on a blog or on the web somewhere. Take a little time to summarize what you’ve learned and what specifically applies to your establishment. Keep references to these findings and share what’s relevant throughout your organisation.

Use tasks list or tasks software, nothing fancy. Focus on the task at hand. Keep it basic and simple. It may sound cliché but these days, a lot of people do a lot of things simultaneously. And the result for many of these chores often ends up being quite poor. Most of the time, focusing on quality over quantity will provide better outcomes. Concentrate on the unique task you are accomplishing now and do it well. You probably won’t have to come back and correct it later.

In that context, using technology wisely can give you extra time, but above all, can also allow to free up your mind!

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