I love technology. I love gadgets. I love how I can take thousands of pictures with my digital camera instead of having to be far more selective with a 24-exposure roll of film. And I love how I can access my e-mail on my smartphone, my tablet and on my computer, and have everything that I do any of these devices automatically synchronize with one another. If I add a new appointment to my calendar on my Android smartphone, I instantly see that appointment when I look at my Google Calendar through any web browser in the world. It’s great. It means I’m that much more productive, because I can free up my time to do other things.

But it might also mean that I’m getting lazy.

I remember when I still had an old Palm Pilot to manage my to-do lists, calendars, memos, and so on. It was a handy little gadget, but if I wanted to see any of that information on my computer, I had to dock the old Palm Pilot, open up the corresponding software on my Windows PC, hit the sync button, and wait for the software to work its magic. These days, it’s automatic. All that data gets pushed through the cloud and it’s something that we take for granted with modern day smartphones and tablets, as well as just about every other “connected” device we have.

Another prime example is our growing reliance on cloud storage. Every photo that I take with my smartphone or tablet gets automatically uploaded to my Dropbox account in the cloud. And then those files get automatically downloaded on every computer that I have connected to that Dropbox account. I don’t have to email those images to myself. I don’t have to manually transfer the files. It’s just magical… but when I encounter apps that don’t do that, I get very disappointed. I’m spoiled.

The thing is that all of this automated technology doesn’t necessarily make you any more productive. You may think that you are being more efficient, since the technology is handling all of those repetitive tasks for you, but you could just as easily end up with a jumbled mess of unorganized data. Particularly if you’re working in teams (or in multiple teams!), you could see the duplication of efforts. Two or more people could be working on the same document, doing the same thing, without knowing that one of them is wasting their time.

And that’s why having the right kind of workflow software is so important. With the increasingly large deluge of data that we handle on a daily basis, a lot of stuff can get lost in the mix. You might not be able to make the right decision, because you might not have all the pertinent information organized together for you. You might miss a deadline, because it was being tracked in this one Excel spreadsheet, rather than being integrated with your task list and your calendar.

The irony of it all is that while the advanced technology that helps to synchronize and manage that data may have just as easily made us complacent and lazy, it is also through better technology that we can best harness the power of what we have available to us. As with anything else, technology is a tool. You just have to learn how to utilize it effectively.

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