As we begin a new year, now might be the time to review whether your tech is working for you … or controlling you.

It seems that managers and executives are busier than they’ve ever been, working longer hours, burning out faster, and complaining they have no time. And this seems to correlate with advances in technology. But isn’t tech supposed to make our lives easier? So what’s going on?

Remember the ‘old days’ when a manager had a secretary who filtered all the work? She looked after all the calls, correspondence and document production, allowing the boss to get on with what he was supposed to be doing – business generation. Then along came computers, followed shortly by personal (or desktop) computers and every desk had one – including the boss. That brought with it document production software that not only enabled the boss to start doing some of the document production, but also a self-imposed expectation that he should.

Next came email – the supposed saviour and time-saver – and everyone in the office had an email address. Now the boss was looking after about half his incoming correspondence. Secretaries then morphed into project managers, office managers and customer service officers because half their traditional job was now being done by the boss.

And finally we move into today – where just about every manager or executive has a smartphone at the very least, or a Tablet or iPad. No wonder they’re time poor. They carry their office with them everywhere they go!

So here are some tips for taming the tech to allow you to get back to what you are supposed to be doing – running your business!

1. Remember: You control the tech – not the other way around. Every device has an ‘off’ button. Use it.

2. Ignore the beep. Just because a text or email comes in doesn’t mean you have to answer it immediately. It’ll still be there when you finish whatever it is you’re currently working on.

3. Set aside time for emails, checking them maybe two or three times a day (morning, lunch, before leaving). Seriously if something is THAT urgent the sender should be calling you.

4. Better yet, don’t have your email publicly available. I can’t believe the number of websites that list the emails of all the partners or the CEO of the business. Allow your people to do their jobs. Your team – and your assistant – should be filtering all email and passing through to you only what is most important/critical for your attention. You don’t need to see everything and people should not be able to access you too easily. Your website should list only a contact for information (eg contact@, info@) managed by your assistant or receptionist. Depending on the size/type of your business, you could also have one for sales/marketing, HR, and media. But you don’t need to manage them all. Same goes for your phone number. Relinquish control!

5. Don’t have an assistant? Get one. It’s money well spent. You should be like the guru on the mountain – no one should be able to get to you without first passing through the nine circles of hell. Okay maybe not but just because the tech enables you to do it all doesn’t mean you have to, or that you should. And with a virtual assistant you don’t have to employ one – they’ll only be there when you need them – but you still need to relinquish some control to them (see step 4!).

6. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. I hear it all the time. “I don’t need an assistant because I can type”. More and more executives are looking after their own correspondence, documents, presentations – because they can type. There’s a lot more to document creation (as the name implies) than typing. But remember, you’re the boss! You worked hard to get there and you’re not being paid to do the job of the staff. And you know, let’s be honest – sometimes you’re doing those jobs because it gets you out of the ones you don’t like or want to do …right?

It’s all about working smarter, but that has to come from you because the tech can’t do it for you. Tame the tech, relinquish control and allow your support staff to do just that – support you – and you just may be able to get some free time back.

Author's Bio: 

Award-winning virtual assistant, Lyn Prowse-Bishop, MVA ASO CAVB PVAA is owner/manager of Executive Stress Office Support (eSOS), specialising in medico-legal digital transcription, virtual author support and executive personal assistant services for clients around the world.

One of Queensland’s most respected and well known virtual assistants, Lyn is also founder of the Australian Virtual Business Network, serves as Australian representative on international committees looking at standards and certification for the VA industry, and is a foundation steering committee member of the annual Online International Virtual Assistants Convention. She hosts Australia’s first internet radio show/podcast for the VA industry – Virtual Business Show – and is Queensland representative on the Board of Independent Contractors Australia.

How can you spend less time in the office and more enjoying life? Visit her site or email to find out.