How to Stop Wasting Your Time and Energy on Technology?
A blog about how to use technology more effectively.
If you’re like me, you’ve spent thousands of hours and hundreds of dollars on apps and software in the hope that it would make your life easier. But most of the time, it doesn’t. Most of the time, I end up wasting more time and energy than I ever intended.
I’m done with that cycle. I want to find what works for me so that I can be more effective in my work and free up more time for the things that matter most: family, friends, community, etc.
My name is Michael Celiceo, and I’m a technology consultant/developer who’s been working with computers since 1982 when I was only 8 years old. Every decade or so, I take some time to ask myself this question: “Am I using technology effectively?” The answer has always been a resounding no until recently when I finally started using Evernote effectively (no thanks to their documentation).
This blog is where I’ll share what works for me and my clients. It’s also where I’ll test out new ideas before implementing them personally or professionally. And it’s here where you can tell me what works
Welcome to my blog. I’m a software executive and I spend most of my day working on technology projects. I’m passionate about good software and want to help you use technology more effectively.
In the course of my work, I’ve discovered several techniques that can help you stop wasting your time and energy on technology. I’m excited to share them with you.
The best way to start is to subscribe to my weekly newsletter. You can also keep up with me via RSS or on Twitter.
Technology is not a solution, but rather the problem itself. This blog explains the class of problems that technology exacerbates and how you can best address them.
Notice that it is not about how to stop wasting time on technology per se: If you don’t use any technology, you already won’t waste your time with it.
This blog is about how to stop wasting time and energy on technology — because this is what a lot of people are already doing. You might also know it as digital wellness or digital minimalism.
Technology can be a very productive tool for accomplishing our goals, but to make it work for us, we need to understand its limitations and how to overcome them.
If you’re a knowledge worker and want to do your best work, you need to keep up with technology. However, I’ve found that many people have difficulty doing this effectively. They spend hours every day reading feeds or news sites, or watching videos, or looking at other peoples’ social media posts.
But this approach is wasteful. It is inefficient because the amount of useful information that can be discovered in this way is small compared to the time spent. And it is tiring because reading and watching a lot of content can be exhausting, especially if it’s not very interesting.
It becomes even more difficult when you follow lots of developers and technology writers on Twitter or Medium. These are people who have made their living by writing about technology and therefore have a strong incentive to share their opinions on new software or features that come out almost every day. Or worse yet, they decide to comment on the latest tech news story that went viral—which happens all the time when you work in tech—and ask their followers for their opinion on the matter.
If you want to make the most out of your time and energy, then you should focus on learning things that will help you do your job better; not spending hours every day reading random stuff online just because it might be
I’m a big fan of “Technology” in general. But I spend a lot of time looking at the dark side of technology, the ways in which it’s not just failing us, but actively making things worse. It’s easy to find examples:
Social media is making us more tribal, polarized and angry.
Our phones are addictive and distracting.
The spread of fake news on social media makes it hard to get the truth out.
The tech platforms are sucking away our privacy, selling us as products to advertisers.
Email is overwhelming, chat is exhausting and meetings are a waste of time.
And so on…
I’m less interested in how this happened than how we can stop it from happening going forward. There are a few obvious things we can do:
Withdraw from social media – delete Facebook and Twitter and other social media accounts. But I don’t want to do that – I want to be connected with people and find out about interesting stuff. So I’m still working on finding a way to use these technologies effectively without falling into the same traps that everyone else does.
Be more mindful – pay attention to how you’re using your technology, use it consciously rather than reacting automatically to notifications, emails etc. This
I am a knowledge worker. I’m not paid for the amount of time I work, but for what I produce. The more I can produce with the same amount of effort, the better. The single biggest factor that determines how much value I can produce is technology.
A good tool makes a job easier and faster, both by doing more of it and by making it less painful in the meantime. In contrast, a bad tool makes a job harder and slower, both by doing less of it and by making it more painful in the meantime. A good tool also helps me do other things I want to do and avoid things I don’t want to do; whereas a bad tool is likely to push me toward things I don’t want to do and away from things I do want to do.
I was trained as an academic philosopher. Over time my professional requirements have changed so much that the profession has little use for me any more. Meanwhile my interests have changed so little that the profession still has some use for them—if only as a source of examples or analogies. So sometimes people ask me about philosophy: what are philosophers working on these days? Should one read Kant or Nietzsche? Does moral relativism really imply that nothing matters? Is capitalism evil? And so
I recently read a very interesting book by Cal Newport called Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. The basic premise of the book – that the ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, individuals who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive.
Newport defines deep work as follows:
Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Deep work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfillment that comes from craftsmanship. In short, deep work is like a super power in our increasingly competitive twenty-first century economy. And yet, most people have lost the ability to go deep-spending their days instead in a frantic blur of e-mail and social media, not even realizing there’s a better way.
Deep Work is organized into two sections:
In Part One, I argue that in almost any profession, cultivating a deep work habit will produce massive benefits.