Are we too switched on?

Tagging onto the previous post of making phones simpler again, here’s an article from TheAge to make you think about the need to be connected all the time. You’ve doubtlessly all encountered it already, someone next to you talking away on their mobile about work, totally oblivious of the world around him/her. Or you yourself, taking that work call at home, or when you’re on holiday. It seems we’re never alone anymore, having our mobile phone or e-mail device always in reach.

So, are we getting more productive with this, or are we accelerating our own burnout by not having any real “downtime” anymore? There is a growing fear that in this “always connected” society, people will burn out even faster than before, being “on call” all the time, never relieved from the stress of work. It is a fact that our pace of work has increased: letters used to take days, but e-mail, sms, voicemail takes mere seconds, and people do expect replies faster and faster. According to some research quoted in the article, this isn’t too good: it found that people can work at 100 per cent efficiency for 45 hours a week. The next 10 hours they worked, they fell to 50 per cent efficiency; and for any hours after that, 25 per cent efficiency…

The “good” news is that future generations may have it easier with this. Kids expect to be connected all the time, and they are using their mobile devices more and more.. It just may be the way of the future.

What do you do with your cell phone?

Wired has an article out on how some people trade in their Swiss-army knife type smartphones for just the basic models, because all they really want to do is .. Phone with it.

Of course, carriers aren’t too happy with that. They love for people to surf the web on their phone, download music and ringtones, take pictures and send the via MMS … all that infrastructure has to pay off you know. So they’re now designing more user-friendly, easier to navigate phones. Remember the ipod, it’s in the simplicity of the useage.

Read the full article here.

Multitasking … the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Ah, multitasking. It is rumoured that only women can do it, but men claim they can as well. I tend to think I can do it … and I was proud of myself too. But then I came across more and more articles that questioned the value and the very notion of multitasking.

We’re not computers, so conscious real multitasking doesn’t make sense indeed (unconsciously, we can all multitask, otherwise it’d be difficult for us to think and breathe while walking for example). Conscious multitasking will always be very fast switching from one task to the other, so you may be able to write mails, chat online and hold a phone conversation all at the same time, but a good chance is that for most people, the phone conversation will be limited to “uhuh” when they’re typing away on that mail… and that’s not good.

Fastcompany recently featured an article, telling us to STOP multitasking. The author talked about the downside of multitasking he discovered, claiming that with all that multitasking, we loose “thoughtfulness”, the ability to really focus on a single conversation, think about something deeply, rather than have the mind wandering off and thinking of the next thing to do. Workingsmarter takes a comparable angle in this article asking us to be more in the moment, because when you multitask too much, you loose the ability to be in the moment, to block out all the rest and concentrate on a single task or person. At Slackermanager they call it the art of tuning in.

So let’s give it a try. Take some time out. Think. Focus. Tune in. Be in the moment. And let me know if it works.

If you’re a follower of David Allen’s Getting Things Done system, try adding that time to your weekly review … or just take a walk.