“Hang on, need to reply to this important email!” — you’ve never heard this one, have you? Frequently, I find myself pondering whether technology improves my productivity, or acts as my biggest distraction. The answer always seems to differ, depending on the day. So, is it possible to find the appropriate balance in the complexities of this digital age? I know it is, but the first step is acknowledging the problem.
You Are The Master, Not Your Device
If you want to stay on task, don’t blame technology, it simply comes down to time management and us as individuals. Sure, it’s easy to get sucked into that cute dog picture on Facebook, take a Candy Crush break, or get caught up in a maze of so many hyperlinks you’re not even sure what day of the week it is. The trick is, realizing it’s happening and learning how to better manage your time. It’s impractical to think anyone can eliminate distractions entirely, but you’re losing more than you think by allowing it to occur frequently. Gloria Mark, who studies informatics at the University of California, Irvine, found that for every 30 seconds of distraction, you are losing 30 minutes of concentration.
Also, sorry to burst your bubble, but the whole humans being able to multitask thing, is unequivocally a myth. People might think they’re multitasking, when they’re really just switching from one task to another very rapidly.
As I said previously, it starts with better managing your time. As simple as it sounds, set clear boundaries and schedules for your social media, texting and internet surfing-type technology uses. It does make a difference. Additionally, there are multiple apps available to assist you in managing this sort of thing. For example, RescueTime will monitor your daily habits and send periodic alerts indicating how you used your time online. You can also set time allowances for different websites and apps. When you’ve reached the time limit, it will automatically block that website/app from being used. Apps similar to this one are OFFTIME, Moment and Flipd. Give one a try, it may just be exactly what you need.
There’s no question that technology has made the modern workplace more streamlined, efficient and accessible. Used properly, it can be one of humankinds greatest tools.
So, to answer my original question — increasing productivity or the ultimate distraction? I guess, both. It’s up to you to decide.