At THP, we prioritize technological development because we know that it is the driver of our ongoing success. Technology is helping to make us increasingly more efficient and connected.

But there is also a flipside, which we need to be ever mindful of too. Technology means that we are constantly bombarded with emails, messages, app notifications, social media updates and the rest.

There are plenty of studies demonstrating just how frequently the average employee gets disrupted within a single hour: from once every quarter-of-an-hour, to as little as every few minutes. And it has a well-documented impact on productivity.

It takes the brain almost 25 minutes to return back to the task in hand according to research conducted by Gloria Mark, a professor who specializes in the impact of information technology on real-world businesses at the University of California.

The knock-on effects of these constant interruptions over the course of a working day means that THP’s staff members have a new challenge to contend with as they seek to uphold one of our most cherished principles of excellence: be resolute and results-oriented.

Many of us are guilty of not taking the danger of digital distractions as seriously as we should, wrongly concluding that we rank among the 2% of people who are adept at multi-tasking. But multi-tasking is a proven myth.

Take one common example: reading an email while participating on a Zoom call. Research shows that our brains are not doing both of these tasks simultaneously as we often believe they are, but sequentially, ie one after the other.

Switching from one task to another like this has a number of repercussions on the way that our brains operate. Firstly, it depletes glucose levels, draining away energy, although THP has developed a drink to combat this: Number 1 Energy Drink!!

Secondly, constant task switching re-wires the brain to operate with a shorter attention span and shrinks its working memory capacity according to William Klemm, Senior Professor of Neuroscience at Texas A&M University. He concludes that it “creates a distractible state of never being fully present.”

Clearly, the constant allure of digital communications means that we need to think about being resolute and results-oriented in new ways to successfully navigate the 21st century.

First and foremost, we all need to be far more disciplined about sticking to the task in hand, difficult though that can be.  One of the easiest ways to do this is by switching off alert functions and scheduling time to read emails between tasks rather than during them.

This is particularly important for any tasks, which are cognitively demanding.  I know from my own experience that I tackle these types of tasks best if I can clear my meetings schedule. Carving out a quiet spot mentally and physically is the key to operating productively as technology continues to march forwards.


One thought on “How to stay focused in the digital age”

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