Thursday, May 16, 2013

Time to Take a Break from Tech?

We’re so hyper-connected and tech-addicted these days that even some of the elite technorati are finding a need to unplug. Take Nick Bolton, popular New York Times technology pundit.  He wrote Monday that one of his tech compadres intentionally drives out of cell service range, so he and his wife can spend weekends together engaged with “all things analog.” Another of Bolton’s pals still uses a notepad and pen when he really has to be creative and not spend his “idle minutes” checking e-mail and tweets all day long. When Bolton dines with other technologists, he plays a form of chicken. They all put their smartphones in a pile in the middle of the table and the first one who touches his or her device has to pay the bill.

The meal probably doesn’t last past the appetizer, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

When used correctly and in moderation, technology gives us tremendous power to connect, create, communicate, collaborate and otherwise GSD (get shit done). But it’s just a tool and you can’t become a slave to it. When’s the last time you saw a carpenter sleep with his or her hammer by the nightstand or pick it up every five minutes to check for new heads, peens, wedges and claws to attach?

Did you get my email?

How long can you go without emailing, or calling someone on the phone to ask, “Did you get my email” if they haven’t responded instantaneously? Some companies, such as employment screening services firm e-Verifile, have email-free Fridays. On the last day of each workweek, employees can use email only for external communications. If they want to contact fellow employees, they have to use the phone or even scarier, meet face to face. We know that’s frightening for some of you in the under-40 crowd, but at least you’ll reduce many of the misunderstandings that come with email as it doesn’t allow for nuance, voice inflection or visual clues.

Our blog has more

Burnout Busters

Reducing our over-reliance on technology should also help alleviate symptoms of burnout. I received a lot of feedback to this article I wrote last year about recognizing and reducing signs of burnout. It was intended for executives of trade associations, but many of the tips and coping mechanisms could be valuable for you.
Here are some other techniques that have helped my colleagues and me:
  • Leave the headphones at home next time you go for a run. Just focus on your breathing and take in the scenery. The run won’t take as long as expected and you’ll be brimming with new ideas.

·         Turn off the TV monitor when you’re using the stairclimber or treadmill. That’s right. Just stare into the blank screen or admire some of the well-toned “scenery” around you.  Again, you’ll come back to your desk with dozens of new ideas and possibly a new “friend” or two.

·         Mow the lawn or wack the weeds. It’s a great way to burn off some steam and the steady hum of a high revving power tool will surely drown out any noise around you. Thinks of it as free use of outdoor sensory deprivation tank. You can’t possibly hear your smartphone under these circumstances. You’ll come back inside with plenty of clear-headed ideas and a highly appreciative spouse.

Macro View

Stocks rose yesterday, with the Dow and Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index rising to new highs and the Nasdaq reached its highest point since November 2000—that right, 13 years ago.  “The main things driving the market — the Fed, earnings, consumer confidence — are holding up, and people put money in the market on any down day. I still see a lot of value,” he said.
In signs that the rally may strengthen from current levels, the Credit Suisse Fear Barometer, known as the CSFB Index, fell 11.4 points over the last two weeks — the largest decline on record — and was now at a one-year low of 21.73.

And, if you still don’t think the fear/greed pendulum has officially swung over to the avarice side, it seems the IPO market is back—in a big way. U.S. companies are on track to raise the most money through initial public offerings since before the financial crisis, driven by the same thirst for risk among investors that has pushed the stock market to new highs. According to Dealogic, 64 U.S.-listed public offerings have raised $16.8 billion already this year. In the same period in 2012, the biggest year in dollars since the financial crisis, 73 companies raised a total of $13.1 billion. Last week alone brought 11 U.S.-listed IPOs, making it the busiest week for such deals since December 2007.


Technology is not going away. The trick is to stay up to speed on as many tools, apps and devices as you can, without becoming a slave to them or feeling like you’re constantly behind the curve. Don’t do it alone. Ask as many smart people as you can, and make sure you have a few friends, confidants or advisors who are significantly younger and more intrepid than you. Regardless of your age, there’s always a smart person in your circle who’s a little younger, more plugged in, and who has more free time for experimentation than you. As Tino Mantella, head of the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) told me the other day, “You don’t have to be first on the wave, you just have to be ready to catch it when it comes.”

Tags: CSFB fear index, Dealogic, e-Verifile, no email Fridays, Tino Mantella, TAG


No comments: