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Falling Behind

Has dependence on tech made us less productive?

This story appears in the February 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

E-mail is easy, the internet gives your company global access to customers and suppliers, and IM is, well, instant. But as inboxes mushroom to alarming proportions, IMs pop up constantly and internet distractions such as online shopping become pervasive on seemingly every desktop, it's clear that these and other communications technologies, from cell phones to blogs, have their dark sides.

The problem with e-mail, IM and the rest is that, as fast and convenient as they seem, they also interrupt the steady flow of work. "We know from years of experience in manufacturing that interruptions hurt productivity," says Timothy Smunt, professor of management at Wake Forest University's Babcock School of Management in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. "Historically, interruptions of any kind have large impacts on productivity, at least in the short term."

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