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Finding Our Internal Compass - When Technology Overwhelms

Most of my colleagues and friends will say that technology has dramatically increased their productivity, and often, effectiveness in the personal and work spaces. Those same individuals carry 3 or 4 technology tools with them at all times. It is quite an accomplishment to be able to interchangeably use technologies for the tasks they are best suited. That ability didn’t just fall from the sky. It took time, experiences, research, trial and error to figure this stuff out and determine how best to utilize each tool.

Friend or foe of technologies, these tools are here to stay and they continue to morph at a rapid pace..which can be overwhelming when trying to keep pace. Even though technologies facilitate efficiencies they also create vast options which one must navigate.

David Allen, in a New York Times article, March 18, 2012, says that to assuredly navigate these pathways we have to develop a “structure for capturing, clarifying and organizing all the forces that assail us; and ensure time and space for thinking, reflecting and decision-making.” He says that most of us try to use our traditional, internal mechanisms to plod through the technology induced environment. Those skills that well served us in early tech days, today cause us to be “unclear, distracted, disorganized thinkers” which leads to “frustration, stress and undermined self-confidence”.

While Allen’s article speaks to work place employees, his framework is worthy of educators’ paying attention. In the education ecosystem, not only is technology integration on the uptick, so are public and national expectations, community expectations and, most importantly, the imperative to increase student achievement. On parallel paths, educators are expected to perform, deliver the goods and stay current with research, best practices and tech integrations. That’s a tall order.

Allen recommends five action steps each can take to bring control, focus and order to our personal and professional lives.

  1. To garner greater focus and control, write down everything that has captured our attention – in work and personal lives. He calls this ‘emptying the attic’ of our heads.
  2. Clarify the importance of each item to our lives. Define what results are desired aligned with needed actions. This puts each item in context of the bigger picture of life and guides us to what next steps need to be. ACTION!
  3. Create reminders for each action needing to be taken. Put this inventory in a convenient, noticed place.
  4. Make it a practice to regularly review, reflect and modify the commitments to keep it updated. Different items will emerge as more important than others with each review which will help shift focus and behaviors and decisions.
  5. Position our resources and attention appropriate to the above.

Many of us take action in response to the loudest, most present factors of our lives. The goal is to be able to make conscious, smart choices that emerge from the above 5 steps….Proaction vs reaction increases our productivity!

One-to-One Institute is an international non-profit committed to igniting
21st century education through the implementation of one-to-one technology
in K-12 education environments.

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