People are distracted by useless websites and useless activities from time to time. Have you ever wondered how much distractions cost us? The time and amount of money we sort out will blow your mind.
According to McKinsey, highly skilled workers spend 28% of their working hours reading and replying to email messages. If we can learn to manage our communication technologies more effectively, we can give the economy an incentive of $ 900 million to $ 1.3 trillion a year.
When you find yourself sitting in an office feeling lonely or frustrated, it is easy to automatically check your social media. But it comes at a high price. Media outlets cost the US $ 650 billion annually.
Take a moment and let those numbers go inside. We are a troubled nation, and we are paying for it – a good time.
How did we get into this situation? The 21st century is characterized by connectivity. In the last few decades, it has become increasingly difficult to navigate. We can go online almost anywhere, make cheap calls to friends all over the world, and our Facebook feeds are always refreshing.
Our addiction is most evident when we lose phones or our internet connection goes out. For example, have you ever thrown your phone away for a few hours and were shocked when you thought of missing out on social media notifications and updates? Or maybe you catch yourself craving for days when your boss just couldn’t send you a WhatsApp message in the evening asking you to work overtime or work faster for a particular job?
What goes beyond the loss of time
Initially, Smartphones and other mobile devices were designed to maximize convenience, allow us to work on the go, and improve our product. Unfortunately, it has become a distraction that often interferes with our daily life.
For example, you may be working on an important presentation, only to be interrupted by multiple email notifications. Do you have a choice – do you stop and reply to these messages, or do you continue your presentation and hope the sender did not expect a quick response? In any case, the notification interrupted your flow and dropped you off course.
Every time your attention is diverted from your work, you lose time. It takes effort to get back on track, and repeated distractions can slow you down. It may sound like everyone wants a piece of your time, and you will never be able to finish anything. If you are a regular American worker, you will be interrupted every 11 minutes, and it will take you 25 minutes to get back to work. The more complex your project becomes, the longer it will take to regain your focus, as your brain has to put in more effort when switching between complex goals.
A study conducted at Carnegie Mellon University shows that people are not yet equipped to “switch” between work activities and hindrances such as Facebook. If you try to do two jobs at the same time, your performance in each one will suffer.
Researchers conducted a study in which people were asked to read a short text, and then they answered questions that tested their understanding of what they had read. Those who were interrupted during work made up only 80% and participants were not allowed to conduct the test peacefully.  In short, you should not be surprised if social media kills your product.
Keep your focus where it belongs
Now what can you do? First, you may decide to keep your phone and other devices away, or at least keep them quiet, while focusing on an important project. Deal with the distractions before they happen. If you do not receive notifications, you will not be disturbed. Tell coworkers that you need to focus on work, and that they will have to call you or come to your office in case of an emergency.
There is also a useful procedure you can use to quickly get back on line:
Rule 20 20
Good psychologist Shawn Achor believes that 20 seconds can make a difference when it comes to behavioral changes. Specifically, making tasks easier or more accessible will motivate you to do them, whereas hard work will reduce your chances of giving in to your desires. If something – like checking social media – takes you 20 seconds to do, there is little chance you will do it.
What does this mean for those of us who struggle to control distractions? Basically, you need to make it very difficult to give in to temptation – check your email, reply to a notification, and so on. For example, move your phone to take 20 seconds to access it, or disable the messaging app to take you 20 seconds to log in and enable it again. This approach means that you do not need to rely on the power of determination. Instead, you will have a reliable system that supports good habits.
Remember, most notifications will not be prompt, and social media will not help you to do any work. Advances in technology may mean that it is more difficult than ever to focus on a project, but that does not mean that you cannot be very productive. It only takes commitment, practice, and determination to manage your messages – don’t let them control you! Remember, creating a 20-second temporary gap between you and the source of the distraction is all you need to do to regain control.
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