Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Ethan Waldman of Cloud Coach.
“We live in an extraordinary time” – Fernando Flores
I have often thought about that quote and how it rings true throughout many aspects of my life. If I really try to get to the bottom of it, I find the most extraordinary of our current time is the pace, availability, and sheer diversity of the technology that’s out there.
There’s technology for communicating, selling, socializing. Mobile technology, microtechnology, technology built into our thermostat. Our refrigerators can connect to the internet, and we can brew coffee with the touch of a button.
The Technology Paradox
As a technology coach, I’m faced with a paradox: That technology can often does more harm than good. I could sit at my desk, and sign up for a new web 2.0 service every single day and never get anything done.
In fact, there’s one technology that we all use (pretty much without exception) that is wreaking havoc in some of our lives. I’ll spill the beans later in the article, for now, I want you to just think about it.
What does this mean for you? Well, you need to be somewhat guarded about the technology you let in to your life. Even something simple as getting an iPhone can be a slippery slope of distraction for people. You need a lens– A filter to help you decide what gets adopted and what gets passed by.
When I’m working with clients, I use a concept called Technology Accelerators to help them pick and use the technology that they allow into their lives. I borrowed this concept from an unlikely source: A corporate-y business book from 2001 called Good To Great. In it, author Jim Collins looks at several companies that he considers to be “great” and examine what led to their transformation while their competitors merely remained “good”.
While the book was wildly popular with the CEO and upper-management types, I’ve found it to be equally applicable to my own small business and beyond in my life.
In a nutshell, Technology Accelerators means that you only adopt technologies that directly support your core mission. That you do not simply turn to new technology as a panacea for what is wrong with your life or business. Instead, you must first determine what it is you need from technology so you can actually get it. Call it mindfulness for the digital age.
Collins says that the ideal approach to new technology is Pause — Think — Crawl — Walk — Run.
The next time you’re considering signing up for some new website or buying some new gadget, pause first. How does this support my core mission? What problem does this promise to solve? Then really think about it. Compare your options. Look at the features. Think about it.
Seems good? Crawl: Now slowly begin to implement. Don’t go all in. Still good? Push it a little further. Enjoying huge benefits? Go for it. You’re running now. At any point in the process if things don’t work out, you can stop.
But if you go straight from Pausing to Running, you may find yourself stuck with something that’s expensive, outdated, or not right for you with a big commitment to keep using it.
What about that dangerous technology I mentioned earlier?
It’s email. Yes, email.
We all use it. Only some of us get as much value out of it than we put in. For many business owners, their email inbox is an epicenter of disorganization, missed commitments, and a to-do list all wrapped into one.
How to turn email into a Technology Accelerator
Email has become such a problem for people, that I’ve developed a teachable system to help people get a handle on their inboxes. I want to share with the Illumiated Mind community. My system is based on the principals that:
- Living with a cluttered inbox is a choice
- Most of the manual work of organization in your inbox can be automated (yes, as in it happens automatically)
- There is no volume of email that is unmanageable.
Want to find out more? I’m running a free webinar on Thursday called Automated Inbox Mastery. I’d love to help you get a handle on your inbox, so you email can go from being a time waster to a technology accelerator.
Using the Technology Accelerators concept before you dive into a new piece of technology will help you avoid the bad technology and only allow the good into your life.
In the comments: I’ll bet if you look around the room you’re sitting in right now, you’ll see at least one piece of technology that is no longer serving you. What is it? Better yet, how will you avoid making a similar mistake in the future?
About the author: Ethan Waldman helps people live and work in harmony with technology at the Cloud Coach blog. Right now, people are liberating themselves from email hell using his Automated Inbox Blueprint. You can learn these powerful techniques at his free upcoming webinar.