Now that Memorial Day has passed, it's "officially" summer for many of us, even though we haven't reached the technical start of summer. For many, summer is a time to slow down (at least a bit), spend time with family, barbeque, and/or take a vacation. But if you're hooked on your gadgets, your vacation may not be a vacation at all.
The New York Times recently published an article on what really happens inside your brain when you're too tied to your gadgets. Although you may think you are a good "multi-tasker," studies have proven that your performance suffers when you multi-task. Indeed, there's no such thing as multi-tasking. (For more of my take on this issue, see my post on the Lawyerist blog, "Multitasking" is a Myth.)
According to the Times article,
In 2008, people consumed three times as much information each day as they did in 1960. And they are constantly shifting their attention. Computer users at work change windows or check e-mail or other programs nearly 37 times an hour, new research shows. (emphasis added)
Just think about that - if your attention shifts nearly 37 times per hour, it means that you're spending less than 2 minutes - maximum - focusing on any one thing. No wonder your productivity is nearly non-existent! Not only that, but studies, including one performed at the University of California, note that this constant switching and checking and responding to e-mails, tweets, etc. can not only hurt your analytical and creative skills, but can increase stress as well.
What is the affect of all of this on your productivity and effectiveness?
- Are you easily distracted by the lure of your gadgets?
- Does the desire to look at cool stuff on your computer or play games on your iPhone prevent you from focusing on the task at hand?
- Do these distractions prevent you from accurately assesing what you need to do or and how long it will take to complete, or accurately accounting for the work you've performed?
- Are you setting the right example for colleagues, employees, staff and others by spending more time with your gadgets and less time engaging with them?
- Are you missing out on important experiences because of your gadget habits?
Is it time to unplug - at least for a little while?