THE BLOG
16/10/2013 06:30 BST | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

Tuck in to a 'Screen Sense' Diet

That's not to say that technology hasn't improved the working landscape, because it undoubtedly has. It's just that many of us should ask the question "How do I find a balance where I'm the one in control of technology?"

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Tuck in to a 'Screen Sense' Diet

In my previous blog Regain Some Screen Sense: Kick the Toxic Technology Habit, I talked about how technology can sometimes be more of a hindrance than a help to busy professionals, holding them back from achievement, rather than powering them forward to success.

That's not to say that technology hasn't improved the working landscape, because it undoubtedly has. It's just that many of us should ask the question "How do I find a balance where I'm the one in control of technology?"

The answer is to put yourself on a 'Screen Sense' diet, and like any diet, it involves eliminating or cutting down the 'technology calories' you ingest.

A good place to start is to assess your level of addiction by measuring your technology consumption. How often do you look at your emails? How often do you download apps? How many programs do you have on your computer, and how many of them do you actually use? Are you as addicted as those in a Glasgow University study, who were found to look at emails on average every 90 seconds? Or are you - like most us - one of the 83% who check their emails every day while on vacation?

And since emails seem to be the technology 'fix' of choice, you should probably take practical steps to get on top of this addiction first. Turn off incoming mail alerts, so that you're not tempted to get your rush from looking at unopened mail, then make email checking a 'diary item', not an automatic response. Start by only looking at your emails every couple of hours, then extend this to just two or three times a day. You could even consider having an email free day. Fridays are good, when the working week is winding down. While being 'out of the loop' may seem like a risk, believe me, your world won't fall apart by doing this.

And be mindful of others. Don't spread your addiction by copying them into every communication that comes your way.

Don't add to your personal technology burden. Stick to core programs, the heavy lifting software that you know adds value. Focus on word processors, spreadsheets, databases and any programs that you use regularly and offer real functionality. Try to wean yourself off 'second tier' technology that brings little improvement to your day.

Unless something new offers tangible value, or solves a specific problem you may be facing, don't change technology for the sake of it. And don't be tempted to upgrade software automatically. Your software supplier may be keen that you should, but it isn't necessarily the right thing for you. Even a new version of a product you know is likely to involve some disruption as you learn what it can and cannot do and overcome the inevitable gremlins and glitches.

Be sceptical of the hype you hear or read, especially when it comes from someone with a vested interest. And before investing in any new technology, seek proof that it will meet your expectations and deliver worthwhile results - most software is available on a free trial basis, so try before you buy!

Being 'behind the curve' and not always in front of it can be a good thing, though perhaps easier said than done if you have an 'early adopter' mentality that needs the rush of the new.

When faced with a problem, don't automatically turn to technology to solve it. I wrote previously that technology generates an all-pervasive need for ever faster delivery, which can rob us of the time we need to think. So don't be frightened to seek out a quiet spot and use pen, paper and the 'wetware' between your ears to figure out what's needed.

Consider getting rid entirely of applications that supply your habit, like RSS feeds or subscriptions to newsletters that bombard you with information that you never even look at.

Don't think you are failing by divesting yourself of email checking and an app for every need. It's just smart management and making better use of your time. In fact, your commitment to trying to process everything through technology, is actually making you less good at what you do.

If you can, find a kindred spirit who can be your support buddy as you kick the technology habit together. Just like any habit - and this is one - you're going to suffer some withdrawal symptoms as you adjust to working with less of it.

More radically, if technology is making your life hell at work, then change your job! Life can be particularly tough in a corporate environment, where the need for conformity means that technology which may not suit your particular way of working, is imposed on you. But that doesn't mean you have to go searching for a new position somewhere similar.

Instead, many ex-corporate employees are using technology in a positive way, to release them from working in the rat race and working remotely instead - as freelancers and independent contractors, or even setting up in business serving an international client base.

So if you're feeling bloated by technology, give yourself a detox, and boost your professional performance.

If you'd like to learn more about how you could rid yourself of the tyranny of technology or how to make the most of the changing world of work, then go along to www.maitebaron.com and enjoy the wealth of resources you'll find there.