They are called smartphones but does their effect on us make us dumb? I always thought there was a good chance that they impact our memory. When was the last time you memorized someone’s phone number or a short grocery list? We no longer need to with these handy devices in our pockets. And I knew they weren’t good for navigational skills which, I must confess, is not something I’ve ever been strong at anyway. My husband has a great sense of direction but mine is terrible so I often rely on the ever helpful and available Google Maps. But the idea that smartphones could actually make us dumb is one that never crossed my mind, until I read the results of a fascinating study from April 2017. It turns out our phones really can reduce our cognitive ability—and they can do it just by being in the room with us.
Wondering how that’s possible? Well, our capacity to think is determined by two factors: our working memory and our fluid intelligence. The first, our...
The pressure is on
You know the expression “it’s a dog-eat-dog world”? I never liked it because of the nasty image it conjures up but it does seem a fitting way to describe the business world today. Companies are cutting costs wherever they can. Jobs are being transformed or eliminated by technology. Reality is, the job market is competitive. Everyone is fighting to get ahead and stay ahead.
In this environment, landing a good job and building a successful career is not as easy as it once was. There is a lot of pressure to keep up in whatever you do for a living if you want to survive. Even more so if you want to excel and be seen as a superstar in your field. But there is plenty of opportunity in the knowledge-based industries if you have one particular skill that is highly valued yet increasingly hard to find. And that skill is the ability to do ‘deep work.’
Where opportunity lives
Knowledge industries make money based largely on extracting...
If you ask someone about their work and how it’s going, most people will complain about how busy they are. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time to get everything done. We are living in a time when technology is supposed to be making our lives easier yet we are working longer hours, feeling more stressed and struggling to get our ‘to do’ list done.
Why is that? What’s behind all this busyness we’re experiencing? Although most people are quick to say they’re busy, if you asked them if they are busy being productive, I think many would say ‘no.’ If we were busy being productive, I don’t think we would have as many issues or complain as much. I think many people, upon reflection, would acknowledge they are busy being distracted. There are so many interruptions and things vying for our attention every day in the workplace.
If we were busy being productive, we would be spending time on the things that really matter to our...
Government and industry scrutiny continues to grow over the revelations about the data of 50 million Facebook accounts being used by Computer Analytica. Consumer concerns also seem to be at an all-time high, resulting in a #deleteFacebook movement to encourage people to quit the world’s largest social media channel. Although Google searches related to deleting Facebook have tripled since the news broke, it remains to be seen how many people will follow through and delete their account. A recent poll of Canadians showed that only 1 in 10 plans to ‘abandon’ Facebook at least temporarily. With all the apparent outrage, why are so few likely to quit?
Much has been written in the past few years about the addictive nature of social media. Technology designers leverage our psychological vulnerabilities to grab our attention and hold it for as long as possible. So, it’s not surprising that many people find it difficult to break free from Facebook, even with...
A local coffee shop has been getting a lot of attention due to their recently imposed weekend laptop ban. The owner cites two reasons for such severe measures. The first being a lack of seating for patrons during their busiest days, which results in lost revenue for the cafe. The second being the antisocial environment created by a room full of individuals wearing headsets and staring at screens for hours at a time. In addition to the ban, the cafe is also limiting use of their Wi-Fi to a half-hour per customer per purchase. Not surprisingly, these changes are receiving mixed reviews from customers.
Restaurants and cafes have been navigating the positives and negatives of our growing digital connectivity for a number of years. On the one hand, the popularity of sharing food and décor photos on social media has helped many establishments grow their business. However, the realities of our device-obsessed culture has also impacted the experience of customers and staff alike in a...
There’s been so much written in the past year about how much time we are spending online. There’s also been a ton written about how unhealthy it is and how important it is for us to cut back on our screen time.
But, for all the evidence and discussion, many people still aren’t making any changes. For those who want to do something about their screen time but don’t know where to start, I have some thoughts to share based on my own journey.
There are three essential things I think are required if you seriously want to reduce your time online.
1. Identify Your ‘Why’
In order to change behavior, it’s key to have a motivating reason. For me, it was because of books.
I’ve been an avid reader my whole life. I love getting lost in stories and, although it’s not always easy to find the time, there’s nothing I love more than spending an hour or more with a book.
A few Christmases ago, I sat down...
You know how horrible and harmful secondhand smoke is? Even if you’re not the person smoking, it’s been scientifically proven how badly you are affected when you are near someone who is. Well, it looks like technology is also having a negative impact on the people around us when we’re glued to our digital devices. Now, before you call me crazy, let me clarify—not all the effects are physically dangerous. Some are merely annoying but many can actually be harmful from a mental health standpoint.
Most people have heard of the term phubbing by now. It refers to snubbing someone when you’re paying attention to your phone instead of the person you’re with. Sadly, it’s become quite common, to the point where we expect it to happen quite regularly. But it’s a still an unpleasant experience to feel alone while in the company of others. This behaviour has been proven to impact the self-esteem of the person being phubbed, leaving them annoyed,...
My husband and I had a lovely, relaxing four-day getaway last week. We took a ferry to Vancouver Island and spent our time nose-deep in books, laughing over meals with friends and walking through rainy forests. All in all, it was delightful—and not one bit of it was documented on Facebook. In part, this was because we’d agreed to do a Facebook detox while we were away. Although we’ve both reduced the time we spend on social media somewhat, over the past few months, I was curious to see what it would be like if we cut the ties more formally for a specified period of time.
Heading into our trip, I assumed we would find it more difficult than we did. We each thought about checking into Facebook a few times over the four days but we didn’t. In some ways, I was surprised at how rarely we did think of it and then, when we did, how easy it was to resist. But, I should have known that our Facebook detox would not be as challenging as it could have been. Why is that?...
I was a little obsessed by email. Okay, maybe more than a little. It had been growing over the years but I hadn’t done anything about it. Between checking, reading and sending emails frequently throughout the day, I knew I was wasting a lot of time. Not to mention all the interruptions it was creating. And those interruptions were seriously impacting my productivity. This was no longer something I could afford to ignore.
I’m not alone with this problem. In 2017, the average office worker received about 120 emails per day and sent about 40 per day. Assuming we spend just one minute per email, that adds up to over 2 1/2 hours of email a day. An even scarier thought is that emails are projected to grow by another 20 per day in 2018! So, I decided it was time to take the bull by the horns and find a way to improve my email habits and, hopefully, my productivity.
I started by reducing the amount of email I receive. I had numerous email subscriptions that were cluttering up my...
You know that part in the movie, when the protagonist is served food or drink by someone who clearly won’t touch it themselves? We all know what comes next if the protagonist actually consumes it. Something very bad will happen to them.
This warning sign could be applied to other scenarios. Imagine if you had an architect design a house for you but they refused to enter it when it was complete. Would you be hesitant or nervous about living there? I think some would find that concerning and look for ways to validate the safety and integrity of their new home.
Let’s consider yet another situation. What if the people who design social media went on record saying it “exploits human vulnerability” and “you don't realize it but you are being programmed"? Does that raise any concerns for you? If so, how much? Enough to make you rethink your use of social media?
This last situation isn’t one I made up. There have been numerous tech insiders...
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