The Strategist

New technologies: Timesavers or time thieves?

08/03/2018 - 11:49

Modern technologies allow us to perform tasks faster and more productively. At least, this may seem at first glance. Rolf Dobelli, an author of “The Art of the Good Life” book, described several examples when attempts to save time turned into a loss of this very time. How? Let’s see.

The problem of presentations

What did the presentations look like? Previously, it was just a report at a general meeting of the company's management or before clients, consisting of a series of logical and consistent arguments. It was enough to prepare hand-written abstracts and some simple pictures. But in 1990, PowerPoint appeared on the market, and so it started... Millions of managers and their assistants now spend millions of hours to prepare presentations. They look for bright colors, interesting fonts and even animation effects. The gain is zero. And since now every manager uses this program, the sensation quickly evaporated and turned into everyday life.

Add to this millions of hours of working time spent on mastering the new program, incessant upgrade, constant changes and endless format improvements. PowerPoint, by all accounts, is considered an effective program, but it is more correctly to call it counterproductive.

Cost of an e-mail

Email is ingenious thing per se. We can write send letters so fast and, moreover, for free! However, this thought is deceptive. E-mail also means getting spam and messages, which, for the most part, we don’t need, but you still have to read them to decide if there anything important. A senseless waste of time.

It would be more correct to determine the cost of e-mail on the basis of price of a computer and a Smartphone, including maintenance, tariffs and software. The total calculation will reveal that the present price for one more or less important electronic message is about 1 euro. An old-fashioned paper letter costs approximately the same amount.

This does not mean that you need to re-use the services of regular mail, but there is something to think about, isn’t it?

New technologies and their harm

Do you remember the moment when digital cameras first appeared on the market? Ah, a breath of freedom! Yes, this feeling was spilled in the air. The end of expensive shootings, expensive movies, the end of waiting in line, end of these not-quite-good photos… now you can independently take at least a dozen different pictures. At first it seemed that this is a colossal simplification, relieving of a lot of trouble. Yet, if you look back, you will see: it was a typical case of counter productivity. Today you sit in front of a huge pile of photos and videos, 99 percent of which you do not need. They are just superfluous, but you do not have time to sort them out. Add the time that you are forced to spend on image processing - without that you cannot get by now - and also to master very complex software that periodically requires updating.

A new technique - so promising at first - often becomes a factor that worsens the quality of life. Here’s the fundamental rule of good life: you can save on everything that does not really improve anything. This is particularly true for new technologies. So, think twice before you buy a new gadget.

based on “The Art of the Good Life. 52 Surprising Shortcuts to Happiness, Wealth, and Success” by Rolf Dobelli 

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