People have always welcomed distractions to divert them from the hard work of writing, thinking, and decision-making. But as technology puts more and more distractions right in front of our faces (literally), it is becoming increasingly difficult to stay focused. For many, at least three hours in a typical 8-hour workday are spent indulging in self-induced distractions on the Internet or in a handheld device.
While technology can make us better equipped to handle our fast-paced jobs, we can’t help but wonder whether its constant interruptions might be affecting us negatively.
“It’s a great myth that people can multi-task without any loss in the quality of their work,” says Don Norman in his evaluation of Google Glass for Technology Review. He continues:
While the supplementary, just-in-time information provided by wearable computers seems wonderful, as we come to rely upon it more and more, we can lose engagement with the real world…We will tread uneasily as we risk continual distraction, continual diversion of attention, and continual blank stares in hopes of achieving focused attention, continual enhancement, and better interaction, understanding, and retention.
Rather than over-engaging in diversions from web programs, ads, and newsfeeds, we like to try out healthy means of distraction or try to unplug from technology altogether for a little while. It’s important to give the mind a break. By being in a working environment that promotes natural light, movement, and in-person interactions—things that employ our senses—we think the need for those unhealthy technological distractions can be lessened.
Greater variety in the workplace itself – lounge areas, work bars, cafés, meet-up and huddle spaces – may also provide healthier and more productive means of diversion from repetitive or taxing tasks.