Think about the rush of panic you feel when you’re halfway to the office and realize you left your phone at home. The shock! The horror! How will you get through your day without it and all the amazing apps you rely on?
As a true fan of technology and especially of my beloved mobile companion, I get that sinking feeling at just the thought of being more than an arm’s reach away. But I’m here to tell you there are times when it’s actually better not to use technology, but to do it yourself instead.
Save that gasp for after you read this:
1. When You Need to Know Your Important Message Was Received: Ditch Email
Love it or loath it, email is still one major way you have to communicate at work. But, even though it’s fast and the standard in most workplaces, it’s not always your best choice.
If your issue is truly urgent—like you just noticed the company website’s down—you should go old school and physically find the person responsible. Sure, send an email first from your desk alerting the necessary parties, but then you need to make sure that the correct person saw it and isn’t in the kitchen having a relaxed morning chat. (With that said, make sure that that there’s not already a mass email or chat informing you that the appropriate parties are aware.)
2. When You Need to Convey Human Emotion: Ditch Slack
If the topic’s a bit sensitive, like you’re wondering if your colleague didn’t love the meant-to-be constructive criticism you made about her presentation, a face-to-face chat is by far the most personal and, therefore, the most effective way to handle the situation—especially if you end up needing to apologize.
Sure, you can use emojis, exclamation marks, and even GIFs to get your point across—but if you have easy access to your co-worker, it’s much better to deliver the message in person.
3. When You Need to Power Through a Long To-Do List: Ditch Your Calendar
Don’t worry! I’m not advocating that you spend your precious brain power remembering when your next performance review is or if the June sales kick-off starts at 9 AM or 10 AM. Letting your phone remind you about those events will both ease your mind and free it up for more important endeavors.
But for many people, your calendar’s not the optimal tool for staying on track and productive on a day-to-day basis. If you fill your planner with all the tasks you need to do, you’ll likely only waste time moving them around when they take more time than predicted or when more urgent ones pop up. And you’ll also feel defeated and overwhelmed looking at day after day filled with uncompleted tasks.
How to turn yourself into a get-it-done guru? You can (and should!) put appointments with scheduled dates and times in your calendar and your full to-do list in a task app. But, to be a productivity laser kitty, write down (yes, on an actual piece of paper) just the three next things you need to work on and keep it in front of you until you get the delicious satisfaction of crossing each one off the list. Then just lather, rinse, and repeat for the next ones for continued stress-free efficiency.
4. When You Need to Create New Habits: Ditch the Apps
While a simple sticky note with your MITs (Most Important Tasks) lets you zero in on what’s essential right now, a task app is definitely handy for keeping a record of all your nagging errands and important projects.
However, when you’re looking to build habits instead of just taking care of required tasks, you don’t want to dread doing “the right thing.” Yet, this is what can easily happen if that career-boosting online course you’re taking is listed alongside picking up your dry cleaning, or revamping your resume is right there with getting your car’s oil changed.
What’s the way to set yourself up for success without relying on tech? Set up your physical environment to make good habits an automatic and easy part of your everyday routine. Set the homepage for that online course as the new tab in your browser so you see it each and every time you’re tempted to surf social media. And print out your old resume and stick it to your fridge so you’ll remember to work on it instead of (or at least while) you catch up on your DVR each night.
5. When You Need That Human Touch: Ditch Your Personal Assistant
Not long ago I sang the praises of apps that can act like your own hired help. And I’m still a big fan of them for things like quick research or answering the dreaded “Where did I park my car?” question.
But I don’t advocate for Siri and friends when the job requires a human touch. So, while a digital PA is perfect to remind you about your colleague’s birthday, it can’t know that your co-worker despises scented anything or is more of a cat lover than a dog person.
How to handle these situations quickly? Let your personal assistant app give you some recommendations, but spend a couple minutes making the actual decision yourself to make sure you get a non-robotic result.
6. When You Need to Sound Smart: Ditch Spell-check
Forget the cries that writing is dead in the age of the internet. From cover letters to emails to reports, crafting clear and concise text is more important than ever.
It’s fine to use a spell-checker or a grammar app to find more glaring mistakes. But artificial intelligence still can’t interpret every nuance of any language.
What to do with your writing? Be your own best proofreader. And, if you’re not so strong in the field, ask your office wordsmith to read over your work and give you some constructive criticism now and then. (Try accompanying the request with his favorite caffeinated drink, and you’ll likely to get both help and a thank you.) And maybe spend a little less time playing Thumb.Run and a little more time reading some quality articles to boost your linguistic skills.
While you should absolutely still take advantage of the power of apps to power up your day, sometimes you should put them aside and go with IRL skills. I promise that strange feeling of not swiping and clicking to get things done will soon pass, and the results you get instead will last.
Kelli runs customer support and creates content for Skillcrush, a digital skills training and education platform with friendly instructors, an active student community, and laser focus on helping you achieve your career goals with technology. She has an MBA and successfully ran an international company and her own freelancing business before pursuing her passion for tech by taking advanced web development classes. Kelli loves listening to tech podcasts at 2x speed, looking for cute Corgi photos online and teaching and performing country line dancing—as a true Texan living in Finland would do. Say hi on Twitter.More from this Author