An interview with two women—Petra from Generation X and Markéta from Generation Y — about how modern technologies make their lives easier, and what their work and private lives would be like without them. For one, a mobile phone is an essential item she couldn’t go a day without; for the other, it’s a necessity she loves to lose whenever possible. But they both agree that the best time is the “touch-free” time when no phone’s needed.
Skanska Property’s marketing manager Petra Machartová is also in charge of technological innovations for the real estate projects that this company develops. Petra is a millenial who uses digital technologies to the max, and they make her work much more efficient. She uses them in her private life as well. As she herself says, she’s got just about everything on her phone, and so turning it off’s not an option.
As for me, I’m Markéta Miková. I work as a PR consultant, and my focus is communication among real estate projects and firms. I cooperate with Petra closely. When I wrote my first paper in my senior year of high school, it was still on a typewriter. I was the first in my class to have her own laptop. But it didn’t have the internet; the dorms didn’t have it. I love printed books and newspapers, which I still buy today, even though they take up so much space.
I met up with Petra to talk about our approaches to modern technological innovations.
When did you get your first cell phone?
Petra: In third grade, from my parents. I was an only child back then; my parents were worried for me and want to keep tabs on me. It was the legendary Nokia 3310. I was a star in my class, because I was one of the first to get a phone at all. My father worked at a company where one focus was phones, and so I had a new one basically every year, and always the latest. My childhood was phone-enabled, but internet-free, and so I mainly experienced it outdoors.
Markéta: My first phone was the Nokia 3310 too, and I bought it in my last year of college. I was studying here in Prague, but my boyfriend was in Olomouc, and we called each other every evening. There was a land line in the hallway of every floor of the dorms, and when I was occupying it every evening from 8 to 9, people were pretty mad. So we saved up for those two Nokias, and connecting was easier. We always watched the rates and waited to call until 7, when it was cheaper.
Find 5 differences! Petra's smartphone on the left, Markéta's on the right
What do you use your phone for today?
Petra: Today I’ve got a smartphone and a smartwatch from Apple. I have a number of apps in them that make my life easier. It’s my mini-office, and it keeps me in touch with the world for work and life. I call, write emails and instant messaging texts, browse the web, and go onto social networks about twice a day. I use apps to order food, taxis, cleaning, movie tickets, train tickets, etc. I like fitness trackers, and my latest discovery is the app TODOIST.
Markéta: Before going on maternity leave in 2013, I had a company Blackberry, and when I came back to work, I received an older company smartphone. It had a small display, and so to save my eyes, about a year back I bought a new iPhone with a large display. I can comfortably take care of email and read the news in it. But I’m still more of a paper person, and I always like to read paper newspapers and magazines. Apps are only sneaking onto my phone slowly and unsurely.
Can you give us a comparison of your personal efficiency today vs. the past when you didn’t have these new technologies, or not as much?
Petra: I have to admit that I don’t have a comparison, because I grew up with modern technologies and gradually absorbed them into my life. My smartphone and smartwatch specifically are how I handle everything today. The last time I flew, I left my phone in the taxi, and I had my ticket’s QR code there, so my smartwatch saved me — the code was there too, and it also let me find out where my phone was.
Recently my boyfriend and I went to the mountains and made a point of turning off our phones, but then had to turn them back on anyway. We lost our way and didn’t have a map, and Google Maps saved us.
Petra Machartová, marketing manager, Skanska Property
Markéta: I find that having work email in my phone is the biggest trouble-saver. I spend about a third of my time getting from here to there, and in the train I handle emails that would otherwise have to wait until evening. Unfortunately I have a tendency to check work emails even on the weekends, so I have that icon hidden away in the last spot.
Petra: Sadly it’s the same for me. There was a time when I was constantly checking my phone and my email even on weekends. Then I said “Stop!”, because I was losing my work/life borders. On the weekends, I move the icon for my work email to the most hidden part of my phone and try not to open it. What makes things harder, sadly, is that I also use my phone for personal life.
How does it support your work, and what are your personal tricks and tips?
Petra: I’m a fan of smartwatches. At work I use mine to watch my daily agenda without having to thumb through my phone. But they really shine even more on the road. When I’m out cycling and somebody calls me, I don’t have to stop and fumble for my phone, which inevitably is at the bottom of my backpack; I can take the call on my watch. Also, it watches over me quite well, so that I keep exercising and drinking enough, and when my pulse is up, it reminds me to sit and breathe deeply for a minute.
Markéta: Technologies save a lot of trouble, but they can also tempt and lure you into trouble. I have to admit that in the night and on weekends, when I turn my phone completely off, I feel freer. I’m not reachable, and my time is purely mine.
What’s your daily regimen like? What apps on your phone do you check the first?
Petra: When I wake up in the morning — by the way my alarm’s on my phone too — the first thing I do is check what’s new, while I’m still in bed. It may be a bit cliché, but Facebook comes first. Over breakfast I check my daily plan, where I have my meetings and tasks. Then my smartwatch tells me when my different activities are coming up. When I’m home in the evening, I check Facebook for the second time in the day and learn how my friends — who are all out in other countries right now — are doing.
Markéta: I don’t check my phone until after I’ve had breakfast and sent my daughter off to school. I check my calendar and emails, and even before I’ve opened my laptop, I know if any new or sudden work is coming up. As for social networks, I watch LinkedIn. Generally in the morning or when I’m tired in the afternoon. I work with my calendar on the fly, and when my working day ends, I recap individual projects and move the deadlines for individual tasks around.
Markéta Miková. She works as a PR consultant'
How do you relax? Do you prescribe yourself a periodic digital detox?
Petra: I have to admit that I’m only just learning this. It’s tough, because I use my phone privately as well. And when I see on vacation that somebody’s calling, I don’t have the strength to not pick up the phone. But I do try to not check my email. I deliberately set up my free time so that I don’t have to reach for my phone.
Markéta: I spend a lot of time writing, and the dinging of text and email notifications distracts me. One day I turned these notifications off, and by a few days after that, I’d lost the tic of constantly checking my phone display for anything new. On the weekends and vacations, I turn mobile data off.
On the road, I use a road atlas and printed maps. When I started my first job after school, I rode out to Munich to visit my boss at a trade fair. We came a day in advance, set up our stand, and didn’t head to our hotel ‘til evening, and it was near, but not in, the downtown. After the third time we cruised through the downtown without finding it, my boss handed me the map so I could guide him. A moment later he stepped on the gas and turned off the overhead light to see out better — he was very nearsighted. Unfair conditions, but I swore not to give up. Maps are invaluable as way to train your sense of direction.