As the economist and psychologist, Herbert Simon once said, ‘A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.’
Technology in the workplace can prove to have so many benefits, but various technology platforms can also impede on productivity.
On any given work day, distractions can hinder productivity from every angle. For example, a phone buzzes with a new text, Facebook alerts you of several notifications, the Workplace Slack continues to pop up with messages and your inbox is continuing to flow with incoming emails.
Can you relate?
While technology poses a number of advantages, the 24/7 network and constant flow of communication can easily derail your day as energy is taken away from focusing on primary tasks.
The rise of applications like Slack, and workplace emailing has meant that employees and organisations can communicate anytime and anywhere, without any limitations.
Hearing your phone buzz can be addictive – within an instant you may find yourself looking at the message and automatically being taken away from your work.
Yes, it may only take a second to check – but that could be all it takes to derail your flow of productivity.
The Guardian discusses the impact constantly being “switched on” has on our ability to concentrate, with persistent interruptions and distractions from our digital devices eroding all ability to stay focused on a single task.
Ex-Apple and Microsoft consultant, Linda Stone discussed that by adopting a behaviour of being always-on and always available, we exist in a constant state of alertness, but an inability to give our full attention towards any of it. Stone refers to this as Continuous partial attention – or CPA.
A Deloitte survey found that most people check their phones 58 times a day, with 30 of those happening during working hours (from 9am – 5pm). This time adds up to be about 3 hours and 15 minutes!
If that’s not shocking enough, the American Psychological Association has found that even brief mental blocks caused by shifting between tasks (ie; looking at your phone) can cause mental blocks that cost as much as 40% of your productive time.
In this age of digital media, we are constantly seen to be alert and switching to the multitude of messages, distractions and activities that come our way.
The good news is we can place limits in our digital distractions, leading to improved concentration and greater productivity.
Here’s three tips to get you started –
Look to monitor your distractions. Perhaps you need to turn off notifications and exit out of instant messaging platforms during certain times of the day. Begin by monitoring through your smartphone the amount of time you spend on particular applications during any given day.
Spend the few hours of the day when you are most productive concentrating on your hardest tasks. Psychologist Jeremy Dean and author of Making Habits, Breaking Habits identifies that it takes approximately three weeks for a repeating behaviour to become a habit. Try to consciously spend a few hours per day not checking emails, replying to workplace messages or clicking on to social media notifications when you’ve designated that time to working through your most challenging tasks.
Ironically you can utilise several digital platforms to assist you in managing time spent on certain applications. Cold Turkey is one that lets you block apps, websites or even the whole internet for a period of time so you can stay focused on the task at hand.
There’s no doubt that technology plays many benefits in our life – but it can also zap our attention. Adopting healthy technology habits, particularly in the workplace can prove pivotal to achieving daily success in your tasks. Whether that be in the classroom, in the office or at home.