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Controlling technology-induced ADD

April 10, 2009

“Oooh, iPod has a new app that would allow me to put my homework assignments all in one place…and another app that helps organize my grocery lists! Hey, the new iteration of the Kindle seems to have some promise…maybe the latest Blackberry would be nice…”

It would be an understatement to say I am attracted to technology and its many fascinating outlets and tools.  However, with recent time constraints I have been forced to examine the means I use to get information, process work and organize my resources.  Introspective insight has prompted me to become a little more selective in my choices for managing personal technology.  A primary consideration has been the need to feel like I am staying abreast of the what’s new, exciting and available while plowing through a ridiculous amount of coursework in my PhD program, teaching, researching and other real-life, in-your-face demands (such as feeding my family and providing them with clean socks…these are not optional, in case anyone wonders…).  I have been led by this process to identify two tracks of possibilities: the ideal state and the current state.  In the spirit of strategic planning I sorted things out:

  • I could run my life as a program with a variety of projects under its umbrella. After all applying project management best practices to most everything in life is good for productivity, right?
    • Pro: Goals would be measurable and progress would be clear.
    • Con: Do I have time to manage my managing?
  • I could incorporate a tremendous amount of technology into my daily functionality even more than I already do. There are many Web 2.0 tools available that would further consolidate all of my blogs, social networking sites, university-related sites, research sites, etc. into one megahub of Zuppo-activity, making my technology seamless and high-performing.
    • Pro: One place for everything. How could that possibly be bad?
    • Con: Do I have the time to consolidate and again, manage my managing (i.e. troubleshooting the applications’ capability issues, integration and inevitable incompatibilities)?
  • I could hire a personal assistant to think for me and manage my world, leaving my mind completely open to the bandwidth required to “dream” on a scholarly level which would, of course, shoot my publishing productivity into overdrive and make my career undoubtedly soar into the stratosphere as a result…
    • Pro: Lots of organic time to think. After all, this is what I am in apprenticeship for as a PhD student – am I not?
    • Con: I don’t really like someone else telling me what to do. I like to be self-determined and somewhat capricious if the mood strikes…not much we can do with this one.

Realizing I am where I am and that the technology management situation that is my life is as good as it will get for the present, I am left to conclude that each time a new app commercial comes on TV for my favorite (and tremendously coveted) gadget I should admire it, pine for it for about a minute, then move on.  It’s OK to dream and it’s enriching to be aware of technological advancements but it is also strategic and mindful to set boundaries as to actually chasing those technologies for one’s own life, beyond the point of which they might truly be pragmatic.  My realization and subsequent assuaging of my technologically-induced ADD positions me right back where I started excepting the fact that I now allow myself to have a moment of “kid in the toy store” type happiness when I read a blog or article about the newest [fill in the blank].  I am who I am and I like what I like.  Getting excited about technology, innovation and problem-solving is not a bad thing, if it doesn’t prove to be counter-productive.

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