Receiving a reminder of an upcoming meeting or task from our smartphones can be a great way to remember to be somewhere to get something done on time. All too often, however, our smartphones beep, flash, and vibrate at us every few minutes to provide us with information we don’t really need. And we know that regaining our attention after such a distraction can take ten minutes or more, particularly if we were engaged in deep thought when interrupted.
Continue reading Taking Control of Notifications to Take Back Your Attention
When I first began to use email in earnest, while a student at MIT in the early 1990s, writing and reading emails had much the same feeling as writing and reading handwritten letters. By far the easiest way to write an email was to go to one of a small number of computer clusters on campus and log in to a computer terminal. The people I sent email messages to were few and far between, and they also had relatively infrequent access to an email-enabled computer. So if you sent an email to someone, you expected that they might not read it and respond for at least a few days, if not much longer. All of this encouraged the writing of messages that were relatively long and that provided information that could be quite out of date, much like a handwritten letter.
Continue reading Making Email Slow Again
The workaholics among us (I can count myself in that group too much of the time) often feel that taking a break is a sign of weakness, or at least will reduce our productivity. In reality, and perhaps counter intuitively, taking breaks can help you to rejuvenate and regain your focus, and thereby increase your overall effectiveness and productivity, whether the work you are doing is physical, mental, or a combination of both.
Continue reading Take a Break to Stay Focused
Although we’d all like to have such a high degree of self-control that we don’t need any external aids to keep ourselves focused and present when using technology, in practice we can all use a little help. There are a variety of apps you can use to resist technological temptation by making it impossible (or at least very difficult) to succumb to that temptation. Some good examples are:
Continue reading Protecting Yourself Against Yourself: Blocking Apps for Focus
I can’t count how many times I have heard the following responses to a complaint about how technology can distract us:
- “You can’t turn back the clock.”
- “If you find it distracting, just turn it off.”
- “It’s the price we pay for the benefits of technology.”
Continue reading Technological Distractions are a Bug, Not a Feature
Are you the type of person that’s constantly doing more than one thing? Do you regularly eat while you’re working? Do you check your emails, social media notifications, and look at news in the morning while you’re getting ready for the day? You’re not alone, most of us multitask, and many of us think we’re pretty good at it, but most of us have no idea what multitasking is doing to us.
Continue reading Stop Multitasking, It’s Wearing You Down!
The term “augmented reality” refers to technologies — like Pokemon Go — that superimpose characters and other objects on images of the real world.
But does “augmented reality” necessarily augment reality? The term “augment” connotes an improvement, not just an addition. Just consider that in the last few weeks Pokemon Go has been reported to:
Continue reading Pokemon Go: Does “Augmented Reality” Augment Reality?
Do you ever feel aimless and unfocused at work? Do you leave the office at the end of the day feeling like you got nothing accomplished? If so, you are not alone. New research shows that people spend almost 47 percent of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing. In other words, many of us operate on autopilot.
Continue reading Learn to Practice Mindfulness at Work
In two of our recent blogs we talked about distraction and the theories behind why we as a society are so distracted—the two oldest theories, and one new theory—but how can we combat distraction?
Continue reading What’s Worthy of Your Time?
In our previous post Two Theories of Distraction: Is it Becoming a Bigger Issue?, we talked about the two oldest and biggest theories of distraction: spiritual and material distraction. But there’s a new theory of distraction that’s been brought to light by Matthew Crawford in his new book “The World Beyond Your Head: Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction.”
Continue reading The Third Theory of Distraction: Is There a Solution?