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Francis Wade

Founder, Framework Consulting

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Can young adults be taught how to change their individual approaches to managing time so they don't also fall into crazy techno-habits?

All over the world, employees are adapting desperate tactics with their smartphones in an effort to save time. They text while drive, interrupt conversations and meetings, use them in bathrooms and interrupt their private-time, turning it into work-time(on holidays, vacations, weekends, sick days, etc.)

Managers have responded by handing out more devices, as it's obvious to many that an employee with a smartphone is better than one without. In the US by 2015, it's predicted that all employees will have smartphones, and it's likely that they'll be continuing the unbalanced habits that companies have been slow to address with either usage policies or training. Only a tiny handful of companies have responded by banning smartphones from meetings, in an effort to slow the downward trend.

We are seeing the beginning of a problem that the next generation will have to deal with. There will be more new mobile technology, and an explosion of time demands that they'll have to deal with as they navigate the usual events of life: marriages, kids, big projects, promotions and illnesses. Will they respond with more loony habits and crazy multi-tasking that are dangerous, rude, unhealthy and unproductive in attempts to maintain some balance?

Given the most recent research showing that we all use different approaches to time management, and that it's developed individually as young adults, should we try to prepare them? Can they be shown how to adapt their approach to improving their productivity and time management systems over the course of their careers? Should it happen earlier in life? Should corporations have an interest in trading cheap "always-on" wins for a longer term sustainable productivity? Are they willing to invest in this area?

Or are we doomed to fall into the trap of buying the latest gadgets, and watching as it damages productivity and unbalances lives?

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  • Mar 17 2011: I think the problem may not be technology per se, but rather the number and frequency of stimulae received everyday by citizens of the modern world. And I know of no way to mitigate or control this. I read an idea by a idea by Dr. Richard Restak in his book The New Brain where he speculates that our ADHD behavior is not a disease or disability but instead an adaptation to a world with higher and higher numbers of stimulae. In such a world an organism would be most likely to survive by rapidly scanning all the stimulae that are received in order to make sure that nothing is dangerous. Imagine a simple world where we are constantly surrounded by dozens of different kinds of animals, all making noise, a few of which would like to have us for lunch. We would pretty much have to pay attention to all the sounds in some kind of rotation if we expect to survive. And if we concentrated on any one too long we might end up someone's meal. The ability to concentrate may be a luxury of past more simple times. The price of progress.

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