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How is Technology Affecting Your Life (and Business)?
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If you’re like most small business owners, you have a love-hate relationship with technology. It enables you to do amazing things (like sell your products to people you’ve never met) but it also keeps you up at night (answering texts from clients at 2 a.m.).

Apparently, most Internet users are similarly torn about the value of technology. While 74 percent of respondents in a study by the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future say they can get more done in less time thanks to technology, 31 percent say it’s harder to separate work from personal life, 26 percent say being “on call” 24/7 due to technology increases their stress levels and 21 percent say mobile technology has made their lives more stressful.

And lest you think these are just grumpy codgers who can’t keep up with today’s technology, Millennials in the study were more likely than other age groups to say technology has a negative effect on their lives. In particular, they cited the stress caused by the lack of clear boundaries between work and personal time.

A Harris poll found similar results. Nearly 70 percent of respondents to that poll say technology is too distracting. Just 34 percent say it improves their work productivity (down from 42 percent last year), and only 39 percent say it improves their family relationships (down from 43 percent last year).

While neither study was specific to entrepreneurs, as small business owners we’re more impacted than most by technology. The much-heralded ability to work anytime, anywhere, can quickly move from being a blessing (all those ads showing small business owners happily working on their laptops from the beach/their decks/the home office) to being a curse (the reality of hunching over a laptop, bleary-eyed, on a plane at midnight).

Is technology helping your business, your personal life and your employees, or is it starting to hurt? Only you, your loved ones and your employees can answer these questions, but if you are starting to feel that you’re becoming a slave to your devices, rather than them serving you, maybe it’s time to ask some tough questions.

  • Ask yourself: Do you feel like you can’t relax, focus or concentrate because you’re constantly grabbing at your smartphone, refreshing your email or checking your voicemail? Set times each day when you do these things so you can feel confident you won’t miss anything, but still have enough time to concentrate.
  • Ask your loved ones: Do they feel ignored or slighted by your use of technology? It’s great to go to your son’s soccer game, but not if you spend the whole time with your nose in your smartphone and miss his big goal. Create systems (like having your assistant text you anything urgent and setting a special ringtone for that) so you can pay attention to your loved ones without missing urgent messages.
  • Ask your employees: Are people spending hours a day replying to “reply all” emails? Are issues that could be quickly solved with a phone call devolving into 15-message threads? Make sure you’re using technology, not because it’s “cool” or because you can, but because it’s the best way to handle a particular process.

Need help sorting it all out. A SCORE mentor can help. Connect with one today.

Rieva LesonskyCEO, GrowBiz Media
Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship. She was formerly Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine and has written several books about small business and entrepreneurship.
www.growbizmedia.com | @rieva | More from Rieva

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