Tech Tools We Use: Do They Really Save Time?

May 31, 2011

The more time we save presumably, the more time we have to spend at work or at home. But I’m not sure all of the new technology I’m using will save time, even with increased use.

So this is a first for me. I’m using voice recognition software to "write" this blog. This is a tool provided by my current employer to assist in documentation in the electronic health record. It's pretty slick, and allows me to be quite verbose in my assessment and plans.

I’m not sure that it saves any time; however, I think the quality of my notes has improved with its use. It makes me think about the concept of saving time, which seems to be one of the main ways we try to achieve work-life balance. The more time we save presumably, the more time we have to spend at work or at home.

However, like pretty much any technological gadget, it's not always clear that time or effort is reduced with use. For example, this software is created with a medical focus. Therefore, many medical words such as hemangioma are spelled perfectly correctly. And words like to “are” are spelled “or” or “R.” Therefore, I do spend a fair amount of time editing the text. This leads to concern that in addition to not saving time, this technology may also decrease quality: Spelling errors or mistakes with transcription that I don't catch might become a permanent and confusing part of the medical record.
 
One of my husband’s and my great victories in the past year has been agreeing on and actually using an online calendar. This has been immensely helpful in planning our lives together and communicating appointments, call schedules, and kid-related obligations. Of course, it's required some getting used to. We actually have to enter the appointments into the calendar in order for them to show up. Simply thinking about them or scratching them down on an old receipt in your purse is not sufficient. Overall, the calendar seems to not only save time but also frustration.
 
Two other pieces of technology that have recently entered our home and our lives are an iPad and an electronic reader. My husband uses the iPad primarily to play video games. It's much handier than turning on the PlayStation or Xbox; it's portable, the kids can use it, and it’s something that can be done in the five minutes it takes for water in the pot to boil. However, it can also be a tremendous time sink. All of a sudden, everyone wants a turn on the iPad. Its easy use is both a blessing and a curse. I'm not sure how much it will end up enriching our lives in the end.

Meanwhile, I love my e-reader. It's portable, convenient, easy to read, and allows me to store thousands of books in less space than a normal hardcover book. It's also ridiculously easy to purchase a book at any time day or night. Much easier than going to the library. It also takes a little bit of time to warm up. This means I'm waiting around for it to turn on when I could already have just opened a book and started reading the pages.
 
It's taken me about twice as long as it normally does to compose this blog. I had to go back and pretty much edit every sentence. While it may be a cool, new technology, it's not going to get me home any faster in the evening. 

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