It’s harder than ever to get away from work. Technology makes it so easy to continue working beyond regular office hours. And in many ways, it’s become the normal and expected thing to do. Whether it’s through subtle messages in our workplace or the ‘hustle culture’ that’s grown over the past few years, the general belief is that those who work into the evenings and weekend are achieving more—and, as a result, will reap the rewards of doing so. But research has proven there are serious consequences when we don’t fully disconnect from work. It’s also shown that we’re better off when we do, both in our wellbeing and our professional capabilities.
While being connected to work 24/7 can make you feel like you’re on top of things and getting ahead, the data shows that “switching off” for a while so you can forget about work is more important. In 2018, a study was conducted to examine the impact of...
Over the past couple of months, I spent a lot more time by myself than usual and I learned a few of things because of it.
I developed a hip injury 7 weeks ago that was very painful and severely limited my mobility, rendering me housebound. Aside from the pain, being so physically restricted was a very difficult adjustment since I couldn’t do my regular activities. As a freelance consultant, I spend much of the week in my home-office, so that didn’t change. But I couldn’t go to the gym like I normally do a few times a week, where I chat with other regulars and work out with a friend. I couldn’t do my usual grocery shop every couple of days, which allows me to interact with other shoppers and store staff. I couldn’t meet my friend at a...
For the past 3 years, I’ve written about technology’s impact on our attention, time and focus. This is a concern for me because I’ve personally experienced the downsides to using technology mindlessly and missing out on some things that really matter. But I watched an interview this past weekend that woke me up to the larger problem that’s driving our distracted lives. It helped me understand the true impact of technology on the human brain and the far-reaching implications on our society and our future. The interview drew my attention to how technology is being used to manipulate our free will.
You check Facebook for a 5-minute break and end up spending 30 minutes.
You find yourself watching funny cat videos instead of doing research for a work project.
You go on Amazon to order the one thing you need and end up buying much more.
At the root of all these decisions is your free will.
Your ability to make a choice based on what you need and want—your...
How many times have you heard the phrase “pay attention?” Too many to count I’m sure, but have you ever stopped to think about what it means? Although the expression can be traced back hundreds of years, its meaning has evolved to become more literal. The verb ‘pay’ means “to render, bestow or give” something, such as a compliment, a visit or one’s respects. But now, when applied to the noun ‘attention,’ the most fitting meaning is “to give over a certain amount of something in exchange for something else.” Which begs the question, what is it exactly that we’re exchanging our attention for?
Given the context of the current so called ‘attention economy,’ I think we should be giving this question some serious consideration. In fact, I think we should give it the same consideration as we do when we pay money for something. Sometimes we think a lot about how much we’re spending and what...
They are all around us.
Among our family and friends.
At work and at school.
In our living rooms and bedrooms.
Driving cars and walking the streets,
some are more obvious than others.
But I see them.
Maybe you see them too.
They are trapped,
often for hours.
Lifeless and lost to us.
They’re adrift in that other world.
The one that held so much promise.
A better life,
we were told.
But the value it delivers is fleeting.
The consequences are not.
We reach out,
hoping to connect with them.
They try to reply
but can’t tear their eyes from the screen.
Their attention is no longer theirs to focus.
They’re stuck in an endless loop,
one designed to hijack our minds.
They / we are digital zombies.
I have lots of interesting conversations with people about the distracting world we live in. Many tell me how difficult it is to achieve what they want and know they are capable of. They often ask for advice to minimize distractions at work so they can be more focused and, ultimately, more productive. And I’m happy to share what I’ve learned over the past few years. But I know it can sometimes be challenging to make the changes needed to work less distracted. I think it helps to understand the additional advantages of developing healthier tech habits, beyond productivity. Here are a few worth considering.
Longer Attention Span: By learning to work less distracted, you can hone your concentration skills and extend your attention span. Distractions impact our attention by fragmenting it into tiny bits. The amount of time we’re able to concentrate on average has been decreasing, from a mere 12 seconds in 2008 to a pathetic 8 seconds as of 2015. Now, in case you...
Show me one person who makes it through a day of work without being interrupted. It’s impossible! Whether you work in an office or remotely, as part of a team or on your own, the odds that you can focus on a specific task until it’s completed without having something break your concentration are pretty much nil. So, the question is, how much does that interruption affect us? Is it something we should be concerned about or not?
Research has shown that if we’re interrupted, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back on track. I said “if we’re interrupted” but should have said “every time we’re interrupted” because most of us are interrupted all day long. Typically, we spend only 11 minutes focused on a task before being interrupted. And that 11 minutes is typically fragmented into smaller 3-minute tasks. That adds up to an average of 20 interruptions an hour.
Now, to be fair, not all interruptions are equal. If...
Between her best-selling books and Netflix show, Marie Kondo has become famous for her “art of tidying.” If you follow her KonMari method, she promises you’ll end up feeling calmer, inspired and more joyful. Admittedly, when I read her books a couple of years ago, I found them super useful. I applied her method to our condo and I think we’ve enjoyed a tidier, more peaceful home overall.
The funny thing is that I never considered applying her method to my digital devices. But, given how much time we spend on them, I recently decided to give it a try on my iPhone. And the results were well worth it! I’m now more relaxed when using my phone and yes, even a little more joyful. So, I did the same exercise with my iPad.
If you’d like to see what tidying up your smartphone can do for you, follow these steps.
#1 – First, declutter your phone.
Start by unlocking your smartphone and closing all your apps. Then start working your way through each...
If I told you about someone who was stressed or anxious if they didn’t have a bottle of alcohol with them constantly, would you think they have a problem? What if I said they couldn’t go to the bathroom or to bed without it? What if it was a pack of cigarettes instead? Or some other socially-identified drug? Would you be concerned about their health and wellbeing?
Rightly so, I think most of us would think that person has some issues that need to be dealt with. But for some reason we don’t seem to feel the same way if it’s a smartphone that person can’t be without. Being attached to a smartphone may sound trivial but some people are willing to go to some surprising extremes to keep their phones with them at all times.
Nomophobia is shorthand for ‘no-mobile-phone phobia’ and yes, it is a real thing. The term was coined in 2010 during a research study on the anxieties of smartphone users, commissioned by the UK Post Office. Back then, they...
The idea for this article started when a long-time friend of mine admitted that she’s much more comfortable texting someone than talking to them. “Even me?”, I wondered. She told me this, by the way, when I called her because I had grown tired of texting back and forth. So, I phoned her instead to have what I consider a ‘real’ conversation. I was surprised at first to hear her confession but then I started thinking about how we communicate and how it’s changed with advancements in technology.
I happen to know that my friend is not alone in her preference for text over telephone. In fact, research shows that many people prefer email, text, instant message or chat over talking—whether it’s on the phone, in person or through video. And it’s not just younger generations, though they are even more likely to feel this way. This shift is often cited as the reason for the growing number of people who feel lonely and...
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