Lose your laptop for increased Productivity?

Accidentally left my laptop at home yesterday when I headed into the office.  My first instinct was to immediately turn around and head home to get it. After all, how was I going to function with out it? How was I going to get work done?

I do not live far from the office, so we were not talking a long trip to go back and get it. It was more the principle of the matter.  My iPhone was with me, so I could check email as needed. But, I was determined not to sit there sending off emails on my iPhone all day.

My workplace is definitely a laptop-slinging world where people rarely attend meetings without them.  But, to my surprise, I found that I actually got a lot more done without my laptop:

  • Walking around – I am a huge fan of “walking around” to get things done.  I am not talking about walking around the office to “gossip.” But rather, interfacing with people face-to-face.  I often tell my team to “reach out and touch someone.”  Instead of sending an email to someone down the hall.  Go down there and discuss it in person.  Amazing how much quicker business gets done.
  • Making Meetings More Productive – At my office, it freaks people out if you come to a meeting without your laptop.  By attending sans laptop, and simply paying attention to everyone, it really startled people.  Sounds pretty basic, but try it, you will be surprised the impact it will have in your workplace.
  • Concentrating on Tangible Tasks – Without my laptop, I found myself working more on tangible tasks.  Instead of slogging through email and surfing through articles on the web, I got more done working by hand.  I developed several projects in my notebook and was very productive.

So, does technology really bring productivity?  Too many companies rely on it without really looking at whether it is an productivity enabler or a hindrance.  A recent study shows that workers spend on average 13 hours a week on email!  This can be up to a quarter of their time.  What could they do if they had that time back?

Some companies have email-less Fridays.  I would recommend that companies go further and have a day each week dedicated to unplugging entirely from the computer.

What are your thoughts on technology and productivity?  How does it impact your company?

PS – Thanks for @StephCalahan for the article link.