tech at work

5 steps to escape digital slavery

May 3, 2011: 12:22 PM ET

Can't put the smartphone down at dinner? Prefer to email coworkers who sit right next to you? A few tips on breaking bad tech habits.

By Daniel Sieberg, guest contributor

FORTUNE -- The hyper-business of keeping up with technology is overwhelming. Many of us can't tell when our personal time ends and the workday begins (or vice versa). We blast off emails like our hair is on fire; we quickly skim the surface of information online just to ingest something, anything; and we even obsess over colleagues on social networks (not to mention battle feelings of professional jealousy). It's no wonder, then, that the tag line for Microsoft's (MSFT) new Windows 7 mobile devices is, "a phone to save us from our phones."

I know how it feels to be slogging through digital quicksand, because I've been there. Some days I am there. But over the past year, I've tried to streamline my high-tech intake and develop a plan that works for others.

While much of the motivation was driven by problems with technology related to my personal life, I also came to realize it was negatively affecting my work life, too. But I love technology and I want to embrace it for the right reasons and the right occasions. Indeed, I have to -- it's also part of my job as a science and technology reporter.

I hope these tips prove helpful in managing your own situation:

1. Go with face-to-face contact

Limit the number of emails or instant messages you send to the people in your immediate vicinity at the office. Demonstrate your personality, your charm, and your ability to communicate by speaking face-to-face. It doesn't have to take much time, just make it valuable. More

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