More and more experts are telling us that interruptions and distractions have eroded our ability to concentrate. Can you imagine a world without smartphones and other devices that make us accessible and distracted and interrupted every second of the day. This fragmentation of our time and lack of concentration has become the new normal. When was the last time you “hid” in your office without interruptions and concentrated on a project – no smartphone, no emails, no internet just concentrated on the task at hand? or When was the last time you went on vacation and instead of relaxing with your family you were constantly interrupted or worse decided to work because the wifi was available?
In August 2018, researchers from the UK reported that people check their smartphones on average every 12 minutes during their waking hours, with 71% saying they never turn their phone off and 40% saying they check them within five minutes of waking. The impact of interruptions on individual productivity can be catastrophic. Continuous partial attention – or CPA – was a phrase coined by the ex-Apple and Microsoft consultant Linda Stone. By adopting an always-on, anywhere, anytime, any place behaviour, we exist in a constant state of alertness that scans the world but never really give our full attention to anything. In the short term, we adapt well to these demands, but in the long term the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol create a physiological hyper-alert state that is always scanning for stimuli, provoking a sense of addiction temporarily assuaged by checking in. Who Knew?
One result of this phenomenon is people no longer read for leisure or for pleasure. We tend to peruse or scan for information to enhance vocabulary or information rather than enjoy and blend into the role the characters and plot. Kindle offers definitions for words highlighted, Amazon offers reviews, others offer “cheat notes” for the person who “does not have time” to read the latest best seller. Who knew?
How do we change and learn to enjoy life? It is an individualized solution, just as any addiction, you need to reflect, ask loved ones, find a support system and release yourself from your non-stop nothing else is important behavior. Your body, mind, family and boss will appreciate it!