Smarter talks to business leaders from Xero, Sendle and OneShift about their daily tech habits.
Technology infiltrates almost every part of our lives. It’s changed the way we work, how we interact with others, how we record precious moments, and even how we get up in the morning.
But what technology is best for work – and how do you stop it taking over every other aspect of your life?
Smarter talked to three business leaders to find out what tech they use, what they avoid and how they maintain a work/life balance.
1. What’s the first thing you do when you start work?
Trent Innes, managing director Australia, Xero – “I like starting my day organised, knowing what I have coming up in the day and what I need to prioritise. Before anything else, I check my email for anything that needs immediate actioning. I also like to go through my Twitter feed to get an overview of what’s been happening while our half of the world was asleep.”
Gen George, founder and managing director, OneShift – “I go for a walking meeting with my chief technology officer to set up the priorities for the day.”
James Chin Moody, founder and CEO, Sendle – “I like to keep a list of ‘big things’ that I need to get done, so I often check this and see if I can set myself a goal of doing one or two of them each day. If you don’t do something like this, you can quickly see the day get away from you.”
2. How often do you check your email?
Trent Innes – “After the initial morning check, I am continually checking my email in spare moments throughout the day. Although we’re connected almost 24/7 in the digital age, in reality, we use technology in moments. We filter through the important emails that require immediate attention and set aside those we can action later.”
Gen George – “I have a smart watch, so I check it way too often!”
James Chin Moody – “I used to check it a great deal and it was distracting. But at the beginning of this year I turned off all notifications on my phone. All of them. It made a big difference and now I only check my emails and messages when I have a break, rather than when something pops up.”
3. What tech do you try to avoid?
Trent Innes – “I don’t see the value in totally cutting out a particular technology; I feel as though doing that is putting yourself at a significant disadvantage. However, in saying that, I don’t spend a lot of time on personal social media sites. As a general rule, I like to keep my personal and business life separate wherever possible.”
Gen George – “I try to avoid anything that isn’t open source and has a community around it, because I can ask questions and see what other people have done to try and solve where I am blocked on my own.”
James Chin Moody – “Email. We are trying to move away from email at Sendle. This means we have our company communications on Slack, and use collaborative tools for all of our docs (so that we aren’t sending documents around all over the place). We are starting to move away from emails with our key partners as well and are encouraging everyone to share documents and tools with one another.”
4. What are your favourite apps?
Trent Innes – “Twitter, Uber, MapMyRun, Beanhunter and Spotify.”
Gen George – “Slack, Uber, YogaGlo, Acorns.”
James Chin Moody – “Slack, Maps, Spotify, Pivotal Tracker, The Economist.”
5. Which one piece of tech could you not live without?
Trent Innes – “The one piece of technology I can’t live without would be my phone. Being on the go constantly, it’s what helps me stay connected to my team, keeps me across updates with my partners and customers, and allows my family and I to stay in touch wherever I am.”
Gen George – “I couldn’t live without my phone.”
James Chin Mooney – “My phone. It has truly become the digital version of me.”
6. What are your favourite tech hacks?
Trent Innes – “With emails being a big part of my day, I’m constantly on the lookout for ways to make it more efficient. I search Google Labs in Gmail a fair bit to try to find ways to minimise and manage the influx of emails I get on a day-to-day basis.”
James Chin Mooney – “I think that you can make your life so much better if you spend time curating your phone home screens. I only have two: the first is for transactional things, like maps or messages. Then put everything else (social media, news, others) in the second screen in folders, and turn off notifications. Removing the temptation to use these ‘time sinks’ makes a big difference.”
7. How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Trent Innes – “Maintaining a work/life balance requires discipline and I don’t think anyone can really say they have this completely figured out. I don’t have the balance right all the time. As great as mobile devices are at helping us keep connected, especially if you’re on the move constantly like I am, they can take over a large part of your life. Wherever possible, I try to be present and either turn the phone off or put it out of my reach. Being present for me doesn’t only mean switching off devices in my personal life, it also means that I am present when I am working, so I can truly focus on the task I have at hand. If I am able to focus at work, it means that I can focus on being with my family and friends when I need to be.”
James Chin Mooney – “One of the best decisions I have made is to walk my two boys to school each day. It takes around 30 minutes, but it gives us all exercise and it is an amazing time to talk. And I get to grab a coffee as part of the bargain.”