Leave Your Tech Gadgets Behind

Tucked away in Monday’s
NYTimes business section is a highly significant—no, immensely
practical—recommendation. The article by Nick Bilton initially describes the
work practices of Robin Sloan, a former media manager at Twitter. As you can
imagine, Sloan once taught news outlets how to use the hottest social media
tools. But does Mr. Sloan follow his own recommendations? NOPE! He owns an old
Nokia phone with just one application: making phone calls. He also takes notes
with pen, paper and notepad. And—he reads books printed on paper—not the Kindle
or the IPad.It may be technical heresy, but it’s a very smart way of
living your work life.

Sloan found that his IPhone and other technologies were
getting in the way of his book writing, so he simply got rid of them. I found it was more important and more
productive for me to be daydreaming and jotting down notes. I needed my idle
minutes to contribute to the story I was doing, not checking my e-mail , or
checking tweets.So I asked my Millennial protégé, a highly responsible project
manager, about his use of gadgets. “I use my phone for talking and texting—and that’s
it,” he responded. He has no Twitter or Facebook account, believing they are a
waste of time. He does have a profile on LinkedIn which he updates every few
months. He has a notebook and pen for learning and coaching notes. His previous
firm gave him an IPad for occasional use. Both Sloan and my Millennial
colleague read books printed on paper.Silicon Valley?You might be surprised to learn that even in Silicon
Valley, Sloan and my protégé have company. Bilton finds that as hyperconnection
takes charge of our lives, some on the tech cutting-edge are pushing technology
and gadgets back a few feet. Their phone is turned off for long periods, as is
their home Wi-Fi at night or on weekends. And like most of my generation, they
read books on paper rather than on pixels.As a consultant, occasionally working with executive
teams, I require them to turn off their phones and leave laptops in their
office when coaching. Gadgets just get in the way.As a consultant who has travelled regularly, I’ve always
tried to keep gadgets to the minimum, lightweight and small. I’ve used the slim
Tumi cloth brief for more than ten years (currently on the second brief). It
offers a dedicated laptop compartment and two exterior organizer pockets–which have plenty space for my 11.6” MacAir, Smartphone, a couple books and pad of
paper. I stuff magazines, journals and NYT in the back of the brief and toss
them after reading them on the plane. Since the WSJournal bias has gotten so
flagrant after Murdoch, I’ve quit that read. The MacAir is never open when
working directly with a client. I bought my first smartphone last year, largely
because I finally decided to toss my thick appointment book and go for the
Smartphone calendar. I use 4 or 5 apps, and back up to Outlook regularly.    Mr. Sloan says that now that he’s finished his book, he
may buy a smartphone. But he’ll use it differently than before downgrading to
his simple phone.  “It sounds
silly because we all used to do this all the time, but after getting rid of my
smartphone I am now so much more comfortable just leaving the house without any
phone at all,” he said. “I feel like I kind of learned how to do that again,
and I would do the same thing if I had a fancy new smartphone too.”Nick Bilton, Even the Tech Elites Leave Gadgets Behind.
NYTimes, May 13, p. B11Flickr photo: Roberrific 
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