The COVID-19 pandemic has been enormously disruptive. Personal freedom has been curtailed with many cities imposing travel restrictions locally and the ongoing limits on interstate and international travel. Science has been moved from the back room or basement into the spotlight as the world endeavoured to first understand the SARS-Cov-2 virus, and then create a vaccine within a year. All these, and many more, changes have been disruptive. But I want, for a moment, to focus on how work has changed.
It’s been about a year since the pandemic escalated from “This could be serious” to “Red Alert” status. By March 2020, the Sars-Cov-2 virus had crossed national borders and went from a regional epidemic in China into a full international pandemic. Everyone has had to adapt in some way. But one group have struggled according to some recent research. Some sales reps are finding they are way less effective working online.
As I type this in my office, I’m listening to classic 1980s tracks by George Thorogood and The Destroyers. That’s not so unusual I guess in this era of Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal and other streaming services where we can listen to whatever we want whenever we want. But every 20 or 30 minutes I have to get and turn the record over. Returning to the world of vinyl records has not only taken me on a journey into history but it offers a much richer way of listening and really enjoying music.
I’m typing this post on a MacBook Air – a pretty common device for writers, journalists and other people who need a slim, light and powerful portable computer to get their work done. But how many people do you know who use a computer that’s homing in on ts tenth birthday? My 2011 11-inch MacBook Air is still a great workhorse. Sure, it doesn’t do everything the latest models do. It passes the good enough test but keeping this laptop working has taken some effort.
Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time looking at how to be more productive. I’ve looked at more task management apps that I can remember, read about many systems and tried all sorts of different tools and techniques. The problem has always been the same. They, I assume, must work for large cohorts of people. It’s just that I’m never in those cohorts. And I think I’ve finally understood why those systems and apps don’t work for me.
It should have been the easiest of transactions. I wanted to play old-school Doom on my Switch. So, a quick look at online reviews suggested Doom 64 was the version to grab. And, sitting on my smartphone, I could see this would cost less than $8 – cheaper than coffee and a muffin at the local café when we didn’t see such things as a special treat in the days before COVID.
One of the privileges of working as journalist in the technology arena is that I get to use some of the coolest tech around. For the last decade or so, that’s meant having the best the smartphone and tablet world can offer. But over the last few months, I’ve taken a step back. Instead of having the priciest and most feature-rich smartphone, I’ve decided to shift to an entry-level smartphone. And I’ve discovered that having all the latest features isn’t such a big deal.
I receive a lot of email through the course of a day – enough that I’ve started to employ some simple automation when responding. Despite now approaching the sixth decade since email was created, there are still some things about the world’s most ubiquitous online communication system that are broken. And the one that most gets on my nerves is formatting. Like many people, I switch between my smartphone, tablet and computer through the day. And the number of emails I receive that aren’t readable on one of the screens is ridiculous. But there are some simple things you can do to ensure your message makes it past the delete key.
I’m a frustrated customer. With the COVID pandemic, getting to the shops is becoming harder. So, last week I made three high value purchases. I’m not a retailer but it seems as plain as the nose on my face that many retailers are simply out of touch with their customers.