In the Technology Age, hundreds of different electronic “gizmos” scramble for our attention. Ranging from voice transmitters (cell phones) to hand-held to-do lists (PDA’s) this technological equipment can be helpful… or destructive. While proper use of this technology can save hours of your time, improper use can waste hours of your time. In particular, I have found seven technological “gizmos and gadgets” which, depending on their use, can help or hinder your success. Some are online applications; others are physical electronics. All are useful if used properly, but all are also dangerous if handled carelessly. Use these gadgets with caution!
Everyone has an email account. That is, almost everyone. I can think of only one or two people who are still living (I don’t know how) without this useful commodity. Using email saves hours of your time. If you don’t believe me, try sending all your emails through regular mail. Time would be lost and productivity would drop exponentially! Clearly, email is one of the triumphs of technology!
However, even email can waste your time. Many people (including me) leave their email program running all day. This means that every time a new email arrives, the receiver is interrupted. If you are like me, you probably drop everything else you are doing and rush to see what you were emailed. Then, if it is from a friend, you will probably read and reply to the email before returning to your prior task… if you return at all. As you can see, this is a bad plan of action for many reasons. First, your original task is interrupted. When (and if) you return to your original task, you will have to spend unnecessary time to figure out were. Second, often you will not return to your first task at all. After checking your email, you will remember something else that needs to be done, and, before you know it, the day will be over and your original task will still remain uncompleted. Therefore, it is important that you manage your email use carefully.
- Only check your email at a few, regular times each day.
- Don’t be afraid to answer an email a day later. After all, have you ever received an email that really needed an instant answer?
- Only answer your email at set times.
2. Cell Phones
Like email, nearly everyone has a cell phone. Because of it’s portability, a cell phone is an excellent way to communicate anywhere to (almost) anyone. If you suddenly remember on the way to class that you forgot you notebook, you can use your cell phone to quickly call your roommate and ask him to bring it with him. Cell phones are probably more useful for college students than for any other demographic. Most people are near a land line phone (either in their office or at home) for most of the day, but many college students are at their classes, in the library, or somewhere else on campus… far away from their land line phone (if they have one at all). In the old days, this made it difficult to contact a friend in college because you never knew when your friend would be near his phone. Now, however, a student who has his cell phone can be reached quite easily at any time. This accessibility is a great advantage, but…
…sometimes it can be a problem. If you leave your cell phone on all the time, even while you are studying, it can become even worse than email. With email you at least are not forced to reply, but once you answer the phone it is very difficult to hangup and call back later. Notice, I said it is “very difficult” but not impossible. If you are disciplined enough, you can politely tell your caller that you are studying and will return their call later. However, that scenario rarely happens. After all, if you are not self-controlled enough to turn your cell phone off, will you really be able to cut your conversation short?
- Turn off your phone in class and while studying.
- Be prepared to reschedule a phone call.
- Remove all games from your cell phone.
Twitter can be an excellent productivity tool. Like I have said in the past, students can learn to write better (because of the 140 character limit), build their network, build their personal brand, and save money (when compared to texting). With all these advantages, one must wonder why more students do not join Twitter. Clearly, Twitter has huge potential for improving your life.
However, Twitter is also a potential problem. As I explained in my second post on Twitter, there are also many disadvantages. For instance, many people waste exorbitant amounts of time updating their profile and reading their friend’s updates. Obviously, this can result in lower grades and a damaged reputation. If managed properly, these problems can, however, be avoided.
- Only check Twitter once a day.
- Try to keep “Twitter time” to ten minutes a day or less.
- Avoid writing “personal” tweets. People really do not care what you had for breakfast.
- Only write when you have something worthwhile to say.
This is the first post in the “Potentially Dangerous Gizmos and Gadgets” series. This post series is dedicated to helping college students learn better how to make technology work for them and not against them. Today, I discussed the proper use of email, cell phones, and Twitter. In part two, I will explain how to safely use three more “gadgets”: Facebook, PDA’s, and Portable Media Players. Subscribe to be notified when that post is published.
(Image by b_d_solis)