Maura Nevel Thomas founded RegainYourTime.com over nine years ago. Her latest book, "Personal Productivity Secrets," is part of Wiley's "Secrets" series. Much of the book is devoted to navigating the pitfalls of wireless distractions.
Why is the term "time management" outdated in your view?
Before we had so much technology -- and the distractions caused by it -- when you devoted your time to something, you could reasonably expect that that was the only task you were going to focus on. But now we all carry the world in our pocket. So it's not a given that just because you devote time to something you will have the experience you intended.
What if we are expected to keep our phones on to run our business -- or to keep our job?
It's interesting that you phrased the question in terms of expectations, because that is what it's about. If people expect you to respond instantly, it's probably because you set that expectation yourself. If you typically respond to your e-mails immediately, then people will come to expect that you will respond to them immediately. So it's a matter of resetting the expectations. There are people whose jobs are about emergency response. Otherwise, being constantly reactive is detrimental to productivity.
Is it just a matter of turning off the phone?
There are many strategies. Really what it's about is making sure you control your technology instead of it controlling you. I know a lot of people who keep their phone on vibrate at all times. While you're valuing the idea of not interrupting someone else, you're still interrupting yourself every hour of the day. Personally, I like 'airplane mode.' You have access to the technology you need, but you're cut off from Internet activity.