Let me ask you something about your work habits. Are you letting digital devices overwhelm you and eat away at your ability to focus and concentrate? Is technology really saving you time and energy —like it’s supposed to do —or is it running rampant, creating unnecessary work?
I hear complaints a lot among my coaching clients. Most of us are bombarded by messages, texts, alerts, and buzzed throughout the day with rings, chirps, and dings, making it difficult to concentrate on crucial information. And then, with the slightest urge to procrastinate, we’re never more than a click away from diversion.
This 24/7 connected culture is taking its toll professionally as well as personally. We waste time, attention, and energy on extraneous information and interactions, staying busy but producing little of real value. We know it, and hate to admit it, and our performance suffers.
The Information Overload Research Group estimates that knowledge workers in the US waste 25% of their time dealing with too much information, costing the economy $997 billion annually.
Smart, productive people know they must manage their devices and data, or else information streams will drown them.
Digital Addiction or Anxiety?
In a Harvard Business Review article, “Conquering Digital Distraction,” psychologist Larry Rosen at the University of California, Dominguez Hills, suggests the overuse of digital devices is not so much an addiction as a response to fear-based anxieties, such as the following:
- FOMO: the fear of missing out
- FOBO: the fear of being offline
- Nomophobia: the fear of being out of phone contact
In the information age, knowledge has power and those who stay ahead of the data stream are perceived as smarter and more capable. This demands that you manage the content, analyze it, and put it into perspective so you can apply what’s valuable while discarding the rest.
Digital devices and information streams aren’t going away; they’re only growing and multiplying along with their complexity. You have to understand how to use them strategically if you want to guard your ability to focus and concentrate on your most important tasks, both on and offline.