Compare what you can accomplish on an iPhone or iPad, circa 2019, and then compare it to what the original iPhone could do back in 2007? No comparison, right? yet, here we are more than a decade later and I can argue that Apple’s technology may make us even less productive.
People vs. Tools
Without question, Apple’s products of today are vastly superior to whatever was manufactured by anyone– including Apple– just a few years ago. Does that make our techno-gadgets more productive?
The key to this seeming paradox is people vs. tools. While an iPhone can make us hyper productive thanks to a wider array of applications, the device itself can rob us of time thanks to unfiltered usage.
Think Facebook, Instagram, Google, Camera, YouTube, FaceTime, Messages, Safari, and all the other apps and games that suck up time and pull us away from making full use of our iPhones, iPads, and Macs– as productive human beings.
Rani Molla thinks the same thing and applies it to the workplace productivity software Slack.
Slack is where work happens. Imagine what you’ll accomplish together.
Reality is somewhat more varied:
A vibrant discussion is taking place in which you and your colleagues are excitedly collaborating around a central topic. Important news is breaking and everyone wants to know. Or, more often, a nonlinear argument is unfurling as everyone tries to get the last word in first, and chaos envelops the very system meant to keep you organized.
In simpler terms, it isn’t the tool as much as it is how we use it. My father kept the household in working order with little more than a dual ended Phillips-head Flat-head screwdriver, a Crescent wrench, a hammer, and a saw.
What does the average information worker do these days? From a McKinsey study:
The average interaction worker spends an estimated 28 percent of the workweek managing email and nearly 20 percent looking for internal information or tracking down colleagues who can help with specific tasks
Does that sound familiar?
Our devices today can do hundreds to thousands of tasks for us, including face-to-face communication, audit trails of messages and email, and yet, with all that technology we end up in a workplace environmental productivity suck.
Communication seems like a good thing until you have too much of it. Because it’s so easy to talk to our colleagues using workplace software, many of us are typing too much. And not all these missives are helpful.
Let’s compare that problem and multiply it with iPhone, iPad, and Mac.
Yes, we can do far more with each device– hundreds of tasks if we choose– but all too often we choose less productive functions. Open up your iPhone and check the Battery function or view Screen Time.
What do you see?
The apps that use the most battery and the apps that get the most screen time. Here’s the problem. As much as we use our techno-gadgets to accomplish various objectives and keep in touch, we also use them for things that can only be described as entertaining time sucks.
Apple CEO Tim Cook says he thinks it would be better if customers use their iPhones less. To an extent, I agree, but maybe not so much less as better. Screen Time can help. Or, rather, a Screen Time version of the future; one which gives us more controls over when specific applications can be use in a far more granular format, and with Siri controls built-in.
- Siri, don’t let me use YouTube at work.
- Siri, don’t let me check email at home.
- Siri, unhook me from Facebook notifications until I get home.
See? That is exactly what customers need to become more productive, but Screen Time doesn’t work that way, and Siri doesn’t work that way, and we become less productive when we have more app choices– for good or bad– because humans work that way.