A New Yorker cartoon shows two people standing at a bar having a glass of wine. One is peering over the top of a tall dog cone around his neck and explains to the other “It keeps me from checking my phone every two seconds.”
The Information Overload Research Group reports that “knowledge workers in the United States waste 25% of their time dealing with their huge and growing data streams, costing the economy $997 billion annually.” In way too many cases, “smart phones” are turning us into dumb digital slaves.
The June issue of Harvard Business Review features an article on “Conquering Digital Distraction” which begins by stating, “digital overload may be the defining problem of today’s workplace…we waste time, attention, and energy on relatively unimportant information and interactions, staying busy but producing little of value.”
The authors, Larry Rosen, a psychologist, and Alexandra Samuel, a technologist provide different but balancing advice on how to deal with this huge and growing problem:
- Wean yourself gradually from constantly checking e-communication until you can increase your offline time to an hour or more.
- Take a recharging walk, listening to music, meditation, or exercise break every 90 minutes if you’re multitasking with technology.
- Keep technology out of your bedroom and abstain or dramatically dim your screen an hour before bed time.
- Forget about “keeping up.” Sort and limit the information you receive and streamline your reading, responding, and sharing.
- Use newsreader apps to sort and filter the information you’re most interested in.
- Use tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, or Social Inbox to stay connected with multiple social networks.
Technology can provide liberating and higher leverage tools. Or technology can enervate and enslave us. It all boils down to how we use or are used by our tools.