This is a very touchy subject and I often feel myself straddling the fence regarding whether technology is an aid to our daily lives or if it is more of a hinderance. As someone who is not heavily dependent on my phone, laptop, etc. (or so I think), I can definitely understand how constant usage can become a problem especially in the classroom. In contrast, as a researcher, the convenience that these technologies provide not only for research purposes, ease of access, and general connectedness (e.g. checking your email on the go) is something that cannot be denied.
While I generally think people have good intentions in regards to being productive through this notion of being constantly connected, I’m not sure that we are actually being as successful as we think. An example of this is from last year during my first semester in graduate school. Throughout the semester, I would try to work on my final papers a little at a time generally late at night, while watching football, texting my best friend, and gathering articles from the VT library website. Rarely did I ever get anything done and found myself in a hole I felt I couldn’t get out of at the end of the semester. However, I know failure wasn’t an option. Therefore, I gathered all my articles, printed them out, and headed into the library to do some heavy duty writing. I told myself I would only allow breaks to check my phone every hour or so, depending on my progress. I was amazingly able to write two 25-ish page papers in a matter of 72 hours. While this was not necessarily my best work and I wish I would have broken up the work, this was a great lesson to learn early on.
In undergrad, I could multitask with the best of them but looking back, I was never fully engaged in the same way that we have to be in graduate school. I was able to surf the web or browse through Pinterest during my 75 minute courses, and still manage to pull through with a good grade. Trying to continue these habits in graduate school caused me to reevaluate just how much of a distraction technology and multitasking can be overall. While I thought that I was being productive, when faced with a bigger challenge I realize I’m not as good at multitasking as I might think. In the midst of my attempt at high productivity, I was actually hindering myself from putting out my best work.