The Harvard Business Review June 2015 issue reports on what could be the "defining problem of today’s workplace" - Digital Distraction. Dr Larry Rosen and Dr Samantha Samuel write that we "waste time, attention, and energy on relatively unimportant information and interactions, staying busy but producing little of value" in a world where "diversions are only a click away". I have to say that when I read the HBR article that I recognised myself in the descriptions of digital distractions given. How do we overcome this?
|Image Source: Cohesion Arts.|
Dr Rosen recommends taking a break for digital activity to wean ourselves from digital activity. A 15 minute break where you shut down devices, or a 10 minute walk in nature should be enough to train us to avoid "FOMO (fear of missing out), FOBO (fear of being offline), and nomophobia (fear of being out of mobile phone contact)". Dr Samuel suggests that we "fight fire with fire". Here first step is to abandon the myth of “keeping up” - especially in relation to email. She writes: "The kinds of e-mails you probably don't need to see immediately include newsletters, purchase receipts, internal company notices, social media alerts, messages on which you are only copied, and even meeting requests (if they show up in your calendar and can be reviewed there instead). Remember that these messages aren't disappearing—they're in folders waiting to be read at your convenience". Too true - Gmail and Outlook provide the tools to do this. Samuel advises us that "can't and don't need to read everything" - we need to filter material that's unique and significant to give us insights into our field.
The overall message is that these digital distractions are lowering productivity and wasting a lot of energy. We need to control our digital environment before it controls us.
I guess I better get back to work!