#thattech Week 3–WARNING: System overload, out of memory, shutting down…

I enjoyed reading John Palfrey and Urs Gasser’s take on information overload in their book Born Digital.  Often times I think our experiences and environment make or break our life-long habits and coping skills (i.e. poor parental guidance, growing up in a large city, one’s lacking or desire to be a life-long learner, etc.).  This is not to say we cannot change as adults, but that it may take further time, practice and adjustment to adapt to our new environment as it changes.

Palfrey and Gasser note, “An individual’s ability to make adequate decisions heavily depends on the amount of information that person is exposed to.  Life experience suggests that more information increases the overall quality of decisions” (Palfrey & Gasser, 2010).  As a Net Gener myself, I have made incredible leaps and bounds the more knowledgeable I’ve become and experiences I have acquired.  I don’t necessarily feel growing up in the digital era has made my life corrupt, but then again I don’t know any different.  I feel strongly we can become proficient at any task, whether it’s multi-tasking or managing information overload, given we practice with determination to improve our current skillset.  According to Palfrey and Gasser, “human and technical filtering of information is a…technique for fighting information overload, and it’s one that everyone uses to some extent” (Palfrey & Gasser, 2010).  To streamline this process, we must practice good filtering to be successful in avoiding overload.

In my primary and secondary educational years I did not feel like an efficient learner.  The Internet wasn’t as prevalent in my earlier schooling years, yet I still felt overloaded going into libraries or even opening up a textbook.  As I look back and dissect my dilemma, lack of efficiency as a learner, I did not possess the skills I needed specific to my learning style.  I was being overloaded too easily.  My mind was busy and I could not focus on doing a superior job on tasks which required more than 30 minutes of my time.  It wasn’t until the latter part of my undergraduate degree when I finally started fine tuning my learning style and discovering what made me successful.  Palfrey and Gasser emphasize that “parents and teachers must work with kids to teach them the skills they will need to manage all the information that can enrich their lives in a digital era” (Palfrey & Gasser, 2010).  My parents primarily taught me management skills, but I feel I would have had a greater edge if my teachers put more of an importance in the classroom on these same issues.

I think it is okay to experiment with finding techniques which work best for any one particular learning style.  However, there is a time and a place to focus and get work done.  Craig Jarrow, author of Time Management Ninja, offered “8 Ways to Stop Multitasking and Get Work Done”:

  1. Do One Thing at a Time – Contrary to the multi-tasker’s creed, you’ll actually get more tasks done by doing them individually. As well, you’ll do it quicker and with fewer mistakes and less rework.
  2. Be Present – Be present with your work and with those you are working with. Stay on your current todo and don’t let your focus float to other tasks. This means not checking email while you are meeting with someone. And it means not working during that meeting on your laptop.
  3. Finish Before You Start – Make sure you finish tasks to closure before starting the next one. There is great productivity momentum in finishing things to done before taking on the next task.
  4. Don’t Let Small Tasks Interrupt Big Ones – Resist letting small items interrupt big ones. Don’t pick up that 2 minute task just because it’s easy. Don’t answer that email just because you saw it drop into your inbox.
  5. Put Down the Tech – Technology has allowed us to work anywhere. That doesn’t mean you should. Close your email, turn off the phone, and put down the unneeded tech while you are working.
  6. Clean Your Workspace – A cluttered desk is a multi-tasker’s dream. Lots of random things to pick up and work on instead of your work. Clear your desk of everything but the task you intend to work on.
  7. Make An Appointment With Your Work – I am a big advocate of scheduling appointments with your toughest tasks. Designate time to work on one task or project. Go to a meeting room or work location if it helps concentrate on the task at hand.
  8. Eliminate Interruptions – Interruptions are multi-tasking in disguise. Prevent them by turning off the ringers/beeps, the email notifications, and yes, close your door if you must.

(Jarrow, 2013)

 Although Jarrow’s tips might target businessmen and women, I think they are universal and relevant to teachers and students.  I support many of his tips and often practice them myself when I’m crunched for time and need to demonstrate good productivity.  It’s beneficial our students develop coping skills to manage the sea of information in which they tread on a daily basis.  Don Tapscott points out near the end of chapter four, “we shouldn’t blame technology” (Tapscott, 2008).  I like that he made this point.  Why blame anybody or anything for certain aspects of our life we cannot control to a certain extent.  Instead, one shouldchannel productive energy into overcoming things that otherwise seem challenging by developing the necessary survival skills to be successful.

References:

Palfrey, J., & Gasser, U. (2010). Born Digital : Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Tapscott, D. (2008). Grown up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Jarrow, C. (2013). Time Management Ninja. Retrieved from http://timemanagementninja.com/2013/09/8-ways-to-stop-multitasking-and-get-work-done/ on May 26, 2014.

 

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9 thoughts on “#thattech Week 3–WARNING: System overload, out of memory, shutting down…

  1. Thanks for the tips from the “Time Management Ninja.” When we use these tips as teachers we should teach them to our students before we have them start using them on projects/assignments. Here are even more tips that help in being productive. These tips are grouped into six categories; create the right work environment, eliminating distractions, get organized, time management, Physiological ways to improve productivity, and Psychological ways to improve productivity.

    http://www.oxford-royale.co.uk/articles/student-productivity-tips.html

  2. Nicole, I love that you shared a pole at the end. You mentioned a quote from Palfrey and Gasser that rang true with me as well. “parents and teachers must work with kids to teach them the skills they will need to manage all the information that can enrich their lives in a digital era” (Palfrey & Gasser, 2010). As teachers we need to take time to teach our students how to find valid, meaningful information online. I also think there is a need for students to learn how to use a library as well. I realize many books are found online now, but older print books or microfiche, for instance, will need to be searched for at the library.

    As Palfrey and Gasser point out, it is the parents role as well to help children navigate safely online. In some families parents are aware of their child/children’s internet use, however in many cases I don’t think parents are really aware of all that their children are doing online. It seems almost impossible to track everything your children do online. I think as parents we need to educate our children and be open and honest with them in terms of internet use and safety. Here is a website I found about what parents should know: http://childdevelopmentinfo.com/family-living/kids-media-safety/children-teens-web-internet-safety/
    I may not agree with all of the information such as parents should know more than their teens. My thought is, of course they should, but the bottom line is, as Tapscott points out, most teens know more than their parents do about the internet. Still the article has some key things parents should look out for as well as some guidance about internet use with kids/teenagers.

    Thanks for sharing your post.

  3. Nicole, I love that you shared a pole at the end. You mentioned a quote from Palfrey and Gasser that rang true with me as well. “parents and teachers must work with kids to teach them the skills they will need to manage all the information that can enrich their lives in a digital era” (Palfrey & Gasser, 2010). As teachers we need to take time to teach our students how to find valid, meaningful information online. I also think there is a need for students to learn how to use a library as well. I realize many books are found online now, but older print books or microfiche, for instance, will need to be searched for at the library.

    As Palfrey and Gasser point out, it is the parents role as well to help children navigate safely online. In some families parents are aware of their child/children’s internet use, however in many cases I don’t think parents are really aware of all that their children are doing online. It seems almost impossible to track everything your children do online. I think as parents we need to educate our children and be open and honest with them in terms of internet use and safety. Here is a website I found about what parents should know: http://childdevelopmentinfo.com/family-living/kids-media-safety/children-teens-web-internet-safety/
    I may not agree with all of the information such as parents should know more than their teens. My thought is, of course they should, but the bottom line is, as Tapscott points out, most teens know more than their parents do about the internet. Still the article has some key things parents should look out for as well as some guidance about internet use with kids/teenagers.

    Thanks for sharing your post.

    Here is another article as well. I grew up with very religions parents and I am thankful for that. They often read “Focus on the Family”. I find myself reading their articles quite a bit. http://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/protecting_your_family/preparing_your_child_for_the_online_world.aspx

  4. I like how you tied this weeks readings to your own life experiences as you developed and discovered your own learning style. Knowing how you learn and remembering the struggles you encountered will help you recognize the same characteristics in your students.

    As I was reading through the list of eight time management skills you included in your post, I remembered learning some of them as a child. Do one thing at a time, finish what you start, and eliminate distractions were things they taught in school and were reinforced at home. I find myself teaching my kids that same thing. When I read that a cluttered desk is a multi-tasker’s dream, I had to laugh. If that’s the case, then my work desk is a multi-tasker’s Nirvana. I agree that the skills listed are just as valuable to students as they are to business professionals. People do not necessarily develop these habits on their own. They need to be taught and practiced. I believe we are doing our students a tremendous service by teaching them how to manage their time and their attention. As they grow older, they will benefit by being able to combine these skills along with their life experiences to make better and more informed decisions.

    • A cluttered desk spells immediate OVERLOAD for me! I often spend too much time in my life making sure things are in the right order, everything has a place and is in its place as well as trying to make organized things even more efficiently organized! Hmm…I think this spells O-C-D! I joke around with people that there is not enough time in the world for people like me who just can’t seem to get things perfect. I think I need to work more on finding an even balance.

  5. One thing I really liked about Palfrey and Gasser is how they described the differences between learning as an adult and a child. Yes learning skills as a child, one can gain and retain them in a much shorter period of time but I like that they described learning as an adult as not impossible. Adults just need to put more time and focus but can gain more knowledge and information, it’s not too late!

  6. I just realized (while posting on Katherine’s blog) that I violate the “finish before you start” rule all the time! (Which also means I violate “one thing at a time,” and so on).
    I’ll usually start writing my blog post before I finish reading the chapters of the week–I guess I want to get some words on the page while there is inspiration and while my thoughts are fresh, then I can always go back and edit later. I can probably think of many other ways I violate that little rule. Then I also realized that keeping a clean workspace is something I’m horrible at (cleaning my desk at the end of the year was very interesting…). Even though I agree with all of the points you mentioned, I feel like I’m pretty successful with doing things my way.
    Furthermore, what does Craig Jarrow know about being a ninja? Ninjas don’t need time management skills. They pretty much only do two things: practice their moves and put their moves into practice.

  7. I like the list you share of ways to stop multitasking it actually all seems like common sense, however, to some especially students it may not. In one of my previous courses we read Mike Ribble’s “Digital Citizenship in Schools” book http://digitalcitizenship.net/Nine_Elements.html. He established 9 elements of digital citizenship. Number 8 of his 9 elements is Digital Health and Wellness. It’s important that students know the effects of technology on our bodies. He gives examples of eye issues, but I would argue even concentration would be an issue. We need to teach students appropriate times to tune out distractions, like your list suggests and concentrate on completing the task at hand.

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