Matters of Time

Technology's future, time with the family and time management
Magazine Contributor
4 min read

This story appears in the March 2001 issue of Entrepreneurs Start-Ups magazine. Subscribe »

Technology is changing fast-we all know that. But wouldn't you like to be a step ahead in guessing where it'll go next? And success, while seemingly easier than ever to achieve, in other ways can seem more elusive. Meanwhile, we all certainly have less time to learn the technology and enjoy the success-whatever that means today. If you can relate to those feelings, you'll be able to relate to these three books.

  • The Unfinished Revolution (HarperCollins)
    Five key technologies are coming that will make using a computer effortless and will have powerful effects on society and business, says Michael Dertouzos, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lab for Computer Science in Cambridge. The five are: 1) computers that can talk to and understand us, 2) computers that can do things for us, such as make travel arrangements, 3) information tools that get us all-and only-the information we want, 4) machines that help us work with other people and 5) computers that adapt to our ways of work rather than vice versa.

These technologies are in various stages of becoming reality, Dertouzos says, pointing to recent development projects at MIT and elsewhere. Most appealingly, he outlines benefits we can expect from human-centric computing, like 300 percent productivity improvements in white-collar work. Wild? Maybe, but it sounds like a revolution worth fighting for-and finishing.

  • The Future of Success (Knopf)
    Robert B. Reich is not the first to notice that new technology and the new economy place new burdens on business and people. But the former secretary of labor takes one of the most unusual and interesting stances on it. He argues that the nature of success itself has been subtly altered by today's professional and personal life.

Reich contends that people's desire to work longer for greater pay conflicts with their desire for increased family time. He also warns that having an established customer base is an inadequate measure of success, because the evaporation of loyalty among consumers, coupled with the ease of finding new suppliers with a mouse click, means no company can rest on its laurels.

So what is success? Reich wrote this book to explore and justify his reasons for leaving Clinton's Cabinet to spend more time with his family. He accomplishes that. In fact, the mass of evidence he presents to convince the reader that success is becoming ever slipperier tends to collect like an overhanging mass, or tighten like a noose around the neck. Solutions, however, are scarce here. But if you like fascinating, well-developed questions that help you delve into your own ideas of success, business and otherwise, this book could be for you.

  • Getting Things Done (Viking)
    Personal productivity guru David Allen tells us that traditional time management tools such as daily to-do lists actually hinder productivity. Instead, being productive is about being able to relax and focus. Two key principles let you achieve this. First, put reminders about everything you need to do, from revising next quarter's sales forecast to picking up your son from day care, into a reliable organizer, such as a handheld computer or paper planner. That helps you relax. Then, discipline yourself to decide quickly how you'll deal with all incoming jobs. That lets you focus on what to do right now.

Allen drops from high-level philosophizing down to the fine details of time management. Solid tips on managing e-mail include never letting your inbox pile up with more than a screen's worth of messages. If you've tried other time managers and still feel harried, take a minute to check this one out.

What are You Reading?

The Women's Business Resource Guide: A National Directory of over 800 Programs, Resources and Organizations to Help Women Start or Expand a Business (NTC/Contemporary Publishing), edited by Barbara Littman.
"This book features several interviews with women entrepreneurs and includes information on guides, resources, and additional books and publications specifically for women. I've used portions from it regarding marketing and sales, actual consulting practices and getting in touch with organizations that will help my business and my clients' businesses."

-Patty McDonough, president and CEO of McDonough & Associates, New York City


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