Technology is wonderful. We can make and receive phone calls from anywhere we can get a cell signal (and if you are willing to pay more, even more areas with a satellite service). Email can be sent and received while on the go. Need to download a file? No problem, you can download to a laptop, netbook, pda, cell phone or other options for access on the go.
While technology is wonderful, how we elect to use it is frequently terrible.
No matter what we are doing, if our cell phones ring we feel we have to answer. The idea of being “out of reach” is horrifying. A text message comes in and we drop everything to make sure we can read it and respond as soon as possible. An email arrives and no mater what we were doing, it gets put on hold for fear we might miss something.
One of the advantages of today’s technology is it allows us to multi task. However, since most of us struggle to do one thing at a time well, why do we think doing two or three things at one time will allow us to do better work? In many cases, multi tasking means we do many things at the same time, and each of these things are done poorly.
Cell phones are wonderful when dealing with emergencies. Your car breaks down and having the ability to call for help is great. If you are driving to a meeting and the meeting gets canceled, having the ability to receive notification can save you a good deal of time and money and that is wonderful. If you are out shopping and are not sure the size or brand, having the ability to make a quick call to get the correct information is extremely helpful. Sitting in a hotel room after a day of meetings and being able to call home or receive a call from home to speak to someone frequently makes the trip bearable.
On the other hand, having a long conversation while driving a 4000 pound vehicle is putting your life, and others in your vehicle and other vehicles at risk. Some might call it multi tasking. I call it reckless. Some people feel that only those using “blue tooth” type hands free devices should be allowed to use cell phones while driving. While these types of devices allow you to use both hands while driving (assuming you aren’t texting, playing with the radio, reading a book etc) it doesn’t change the fact you aren’t concentrating on what you should be concentrating on, which is being as safe as possible.
Sitting in a meeting and constantly “playing” with your blackberry/iPhone means you most likely aren’t paying attention to the meeting nor adequately paying attention to your response. Personally, if I’m in a meeting and people are emailing/texting while others are talking, my tendency is to leave as the meeting obviously isn’t important enough for people to pay attention to so since I don’t want to multi task in that type of environment, I’ll just leave and do something else that is important.
Sitting in a restaurant talking on a cell phone while waiting for your food might seem like a good use of time but are you taking into consideration the people around you? It seems people feel they need to speak louder when talking on their cell phones than when speaking with a person next to them so really give some thought to whether you need to be on the phone in a confined space if others are around.
Just because we have technology to be available, does not mean we always have to be available. If you are busy but feel the need to answer the phone anyway, simply answer and say you are busy and ask if you can call back later.
Technology is wonderful. How we use it sometimes SUCKS! The next time your cell phone rings, or a text comes in or an email arrives, think “do I really need to answer it right away?” Think in terms of what is polite to the people around you. Think about what is safe for you and those around you. Think about whether having some “down time” really is that bad.
Have a great day!