Technology is just a tool. Or, I should say, it’s a bunch of tools —and new ones are being developed all the time.
Having a bunch of tools isn’t the key to efficiency. Having the right tool helps, but that’s not the key factor in becoming more productive by using technology.
Some people avoid using new technology and miss out on potential productivity gains. But other people (usually the more tech-proficient folks) fail to become truly productive for a different reason: they don’t know how to manage their attention. So they misuse technology.
Here’s the key to using technology to be productive: (1) you have to find the right tool, the optimal tool, and then (2) you have to learn to use it in ways that truly help you become productive.
Either way, you’re going to have to manage your attention. You’re going to have to pay attention to the right things, and avoid getting distracted by things that don’t help you become more productive.
Sadly, “tech-savvy” lawyers, and consultants who help lawyers with technology, are often responsible for what I shall now term ‘attention misdirection disorder.’
Obviously we live in a world where shiny new tech objects now rain down like manna. But, let’s be clear: you don’t have time to pay attention to all of those new tools, much less figure out how to use them to be more efficient.
Learn to use the tools you already have. Learn to get as much out of them as you can so you can truly become more productive. Is a new case for your iPhone going to improve your efficiency? No, it’s not.
Learning to use Dragon Dictation might. But there’s a learning curve: you’ll have to pay a lot of attention to something new, something unfamiliar. That’s what happens when you to start using a new tool that lets you create text in a new way.
Let’s admit the uncomfortable truth about learning to use Dragon: You’ll have a lot of questions that make you feel stupid.
How do you delete that word it just typed? What’s the command for jumping to the end of the document? What do you say to get it to capitalize the first letter of a word in the middle of the sentence?
In short, you have to put in sustained effort to master a lot of little things. Which shouldn’t be surprising, actually.
You had to master a lot of small skills when you first learned to write with a pencil. And again when you learned to type on a computer keyboard.
Not very exciting, was it?
Unfortunately, that’s how it is with productivity. The boring part is the part that matters most.
What most of us need isn’t more technology. Instead, we need a realistic approach to getting more out of the tools that can help us most.
Forget about the shiny new objects. Your attention is better spent learning to get more out of the dull tools you already have.