I’m a huge advocate for absolute, cutting edge technology not to mention all things Future Tech. I firmly believe that everyone’s future can be richer and happier when technology is used properly.

“Properly” is the key word in that last sentence though. With the past 20 years+ worth of advanced technology pouring into everyone’s lives it can easily become a problem rather than an advantage. So what can we do to ensure we’re not being slowed down by our tech? How can we ensure that it’s indeed making our future (and present) better?

Attention Whores

The very first thing you absolutely have to be mindful of is the attention whores of the technology world. For the most part, these are all the famous social media platforms as well as email.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest and so on have all literally been designed to be addictive. Every design choice, every interaction is crafted explicitly to get your attention, keep it and force you to have to interact. This isn’t a silly notion or opinion of mine, this is cold hard fact. They have designed them this way on purpose.

These platforms can be useful to many people, from businesses to private individuals but most greatly overestimate their benefit. Speaking personally I hold accounts on most of these platforms for “business” purposes only. For the most part my content gets automatically posted to it and I rarely look at them. Beyond that I’ve never even had personal accounts on any of them as I consider them sub-par services.

They invade your privacy and security, waste significant amounts of your time, promote poor values, cause depression and anger plus are just objectively bad user experiences that annoy the hell out of me – I’m looking at you Facebook!

I find Feedly and RSS feeds a far more pleasant and efficient way of consuming information. There are no ads, the content is never “suggested” from some pool of most liked garbage and it’s always in chronological order.

It also has a dark mode!

While I would 100% suggest completely deleting Facebook, Twitter etc I do understand it can be tough if friends are on them and flat out refuse to use anything else. You don’t want to cut off contact with them but you can still remove the app from your phone. That way there’s more of a barrier to you using it that will help naturally reduce your use of it. As you use it less, you’ll find other things to take its place and not miss it

On the other end is email. To ensure this isn’t a burdon I’d suggest unsubscribing from everything that doesn’t add legitimate value to you. Promotions, sales, constant “updates”? Unsubscribe. Hopefully my content is good enough and provides beneficial information so you won’t unsubscribe from these posts… but it’s up to you.

Again speaking personally my email is pretty dead 99% of the time. I mostly get email from actual people and even then it’s pretty few and far between. Maybe 1-3 emails a day tops. This makes it very easy to manage and doesn’t result in one of those inboxes that has 4,505 unread emails.

No social media and virtually no email means all the time I spend on technology is spent doing things I want to do, not something I’ve been dragged into. It means more productivity, less stress and a far happier life.

Digital Garbage

Another huge source of technology slowing people down rather than helping them is all the garbage that comes with it. This “digital garbage” is stuff like the thousands of unsorted photos on your phone. The hundreds of unsorted folders of work and personal documents sitting on your laptop or computer.

From computer desktops that you can’t see the background on because there’s so many files and shortcuts scattered everywhere to that folder with 40,000 completely unsorted photos in it this can take many forms.

While it’s not as bad as real physical garbage, digital garbage still enacts a mental toll on you. You might avoid doing something because you don’t want to see the 4,000 unread emails in your inbox or the thousands of random files and folders. I find it also permanently sits in the back of your mind where as a clean, well organised setup is much more pleasant and relaxing.

Even if you don’t care about it being there in the back of your mind, having all this digital garbage severely impacts how quickly you can do something. Being more organised with everything in it’s place just makes things quicker to find, process and do.

It makes things easier to back up, manage and secure. Yes it can take time to initially sort out and sometimes be a big job, but just like cleaning up your house it’s a satisfying job to do.

Practical Limits

When it comes to technology and ensuring that it doesn’t slow me down I’ve become quite aggressive. From slightly altering some things or my habits when interacting with them, to completely removing others things it’s all with the focus of making sure it helps not hinders.

While I always try new technologies, systems or software to begin with, they have to present clear, meaningful additions to my life before I’ll just blindly accept them. This could be something like the “Snooze” function in Gmail that enables me to easily follow up things or a new wireless keyboard that makes my desk look neater and less tangled.

It’s an important distinction to make as too many people simply crack it and refuse to use any new technology, wanting to stick to their good old faxes or land line telephones. This isn’t the answer as it means you become slower and slower compared to everyone else which is especially bad if you’re a business.

Technology should be put through a short to medium “trial period” and assessed afterwards. Was it pleasant to use? What benefits does it give you? Are you more productive? Less? Does it do certain tasks for you automatically? Maybe it saves you money?

The criteria and passing grade is of course up to you, but if the technology does pass the test limits should always be put on too. Maybe Twitter significantly helps your business and you see revenue growth. That’s great! Keep at it! But ensure you’re only dedicating the time that it helps pay back.

If you’re just doing it for you, perhaps see if it’s made you closer to your friends. Most find that they’re depressed by social media or constantly want to buy crap they don’t need off it because it’s being shoved in their face 24/7. This overwhelmed feeling is not good and should be removed with vengeance even if you do enjoy some small components.

Like so many things it’s not a black and white issue. Technology can be life saving, annoying, time saving or something that drives people to commit suicide. It’s up to you to continuously monitor and patrol how you’re using it. If done properly, it’s possible to almost exclusively access the benefits of technology. It’s why I write these pieces, to help others learn how to use new tech and ensure your future is richer and happier because of it.

Do you have any rules for technology? Let us know in the comments below!

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