How Technology Demands a Different Approach to Your Job Being more productive can be a double-edged sword. How to use technology in a way to help, not hurt, your career.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Technology has created a shift in the way we work day-to-day. In ways large and small, it's made tasks easier. None of us can live without tech in the workplace, and we are often thankful at how it has improved our productivity.
But technology can also threaten your livelihood if you're not careful. The rise in productivity has increased the competition for key roles. If you want to stay competitive, you have to watch out for these five things:
1. It can make you lazy in how you communicate.
Let's face it, technology allows us to communicate quicker than ever before. But is speed always better? Sometimes, but not always. There was a time when people would actually walk into a colleague's office or pick up the phone to talk to a customer. Now we have automated systems, email and instant message. Who needs to walk or pick up the phone when you can type?
This is where you're wrong. There is something powerful about having a live conversation with another human being. There is something even more powerful about having a conversation with another human being in person. The human connection element is lost when a computer comes between you and another. And as you well know, it's not what you know, but who you know. Your client is more likely to give you more business and your boss is more likely to promote you if they know you in person. Furthermore, your colleagues are more likely to choose you for an important team project and your employees are more likely to "have your back" if they know your human side.
2. It makes you an automatic workaholic.
Believe it or not, once upon a time, professionals left the office at the end of the day and left their work behind. Even if they were the workaholic type that took work home, there was an end to that work and then that professional could spend the night or weekend with family, friends or doing something else that was fun. Today, we are attached to our smartphones, computers and tablets. And what's worse, your boss, colleagues and clients expect you to be.
With no time off, you're more likely to burn out. Try setting some limits without jeopardizing your career. Block out certain times to check your email (perhaps at the top of every hour during weeknights and twice a day on weekends) and then shut off your phone. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to spend some quality time away from the office. You will be more productive if you've had some time unchained from your virtual desk.
3. You might not be using social media correctly.
Social media is a great way to show people in your field that you are an expert and a "go to" person. Instead, many of us use it to stay in touch with friends, rather than to show off our talents and attract clients and customers.
An easy way to do both is to create different accounts for your professional life and your private one. Keep your current Twitter handle, but create one for your work life and post interesting information or articles relevant to your job. Start writing a blog and post the stories on LinkedIn. Use Facebook to show your "friends" that you are a real player in your field. All of these things will help you begin to establish that you're not just any old employee, but that you know your stuff. This will make you more attractive to potential employers and customers. And it will allow you to interact with others in your industry that you wouldn't otherwise have access to. You never know when you could meet someone that can help you do your job better.
4. Social media could keep you from getting hired or even get you fired.
If you think your employer is not patrolling, think again. First of all, the first thing most employers do today before they interview a candidate is Google them to check up on them and locate all of their social media accounts. If an employer shows you being a wild child, you probably won't get called for the interview. And if your current employer sees that you conduct yourself in a way that he or she doesn't approve of, don't think for a second that when it's time to lay off staff, you won't be on the chopping block. Social media can present huge personal risk for your professional life.
Even if you have your Facebook account blocked so that only friends can see, remember that the world is smaller than you might think. You never know who your boss or potential employer knows who is your "friend."
5. You may not realize how much time you're wasting.
Let's face it, it's easy to get lost on the Internet, social media or just in your computer. You look up and can't believe where the time went. You think the problem is that there aren't enough hours in a day, but really, you're so engrossed that you lose all concept of time.
If you're not a structured person by nature, or if you don't actively structure your day, try making a to do list every morning and put time limits on when you will be working on each task. Doing so will help you avoid wasting the minutes or letting the hours fly by without being productive.