By Rob Starr, Big4.com Content Manager
Trevor Ewen is a native Chicagoan, relocated to New York in 2011. He works as a senior software engineer with Neosavvy, a New York based consultancy. Over the course of his career he has participated in development efforts for Keyser Group, Bloomberg Sports, Pearson, Morgan Stanley, HBO, Honest Buildings, RunEnergy, and others. He is a graduate of Northwestern University with a keen interest in money-management, real estate investing, music, and the arts. He recently joined the founding board for Paterson, New Jersey’s chapter of New City Kids. As a technologist he feels honored to participate in an economy so ripe with opportunity for innovation. Trevor lives with his wife Diane, in Long Island City, Queens. Below are some answers to the questions Big4.com posed to him about technology and time management from a career development angle.
How has technology changed the way professionals manage their time?
On one hand, technology allows for greater organization, productivity, management and scale. Digital calendars, getting things done task lists, project management software, etc. They all provide great efficiency to workers willing to use them. On the other hand, people waste a ton of time using technology for non-work purposes. Many professionals tend toward the scatter-brained, everything is urgent, and increasing chat and brand management platforms that spread people much thinner.
Have there been any negative consequences?
The primary negative consequences are the pieces of technology that distract and waste time.
Facebook & Twitter are prime culprits. Journalistic feeds like Digg, Buzzfeed, and Gawker can be similarly distracting. Even Google News or Bloomberg can cause workers to drift and waste an excessive amount of time. The secondary consequence is a blurring of the lines between work and personal time. I read business blog posts while I am waiting for dinner and feel a need to respond to them on Twitter or in some other way. I never seem to leave my work at the office.
What elements of the online world are affecting time management the most and why?
Mobile email and chat clients are increasing worker availability to a nearly 24 hour cycle. It provides for great flexibility during the day. I am often able to interface with teams across the country or around the world waiting at a train stop. The omnipresence of communication seeps into our personal lives as well.
What are your suggestions to make the best of technology in time management?
Set policies that are not based on feelings or trends. Don’t check Twitter because you think all journalists use it. Check it because you have a strategy and a reason for doing so. Schedule tasks so they can be queued up for later. If you really want to engage people, schedule emails the night before to be in their inbox at 9 a.m. in their timezone. Even if you (like me) have a policy of not starting with your email, chances are 80% of people start right there and they will respond immediately. Use a task management software like Todoist or Remember The Milk. Anything that takes longer than two minutes, get it on the task list.
What do you think is coming in the future?
I think that technology moves fast, culture moves slow. Our culture and society is still developing ethics and manners around the use of technology and how it relates to productivity. Draconian methods of enforcement like domain blocking are not great ways to create workplace change. Creating an environment of productivity, where Facebook waits till you get home, that’s the environment workplaces should strive for. We are still developing manners and practice.