The Phenomenon of Attention: How to Overcome Technology’s Strike on Attention Spans

Submitted by: PGi Blogger

We’re a gadget happy world. And all those gadgets—namely smartphones, GPS and laptops—are killing our attention spans and perhaps even making us dumber. According to a Discovery News article:

  • GPS could actually contribute to the shrinking our hippocampus, the part of the brain that deals with spatial orientation and memory.
  • The Internet and its expansive volume of knowledge reduces focus, leading us to become unfocused and superficial thinkers by focusing on short-term memory, instead of lasting, long-term information.
  • Smartphones cause memory and natural processing speed to decline, due to distractions and readily available information that reducing long-term memory cognition.
  • Multitasking across devices and programs actually causes a lower IQ than sleep deprivation.

On the other hand, we all know that technology enables us to reach new heights, innovations and knowledge than ever before. So, how do we overcome technology’s strike on attention spans and retention? Here are five techniques for your business:

1. Ban (or severely limit) devices during in-person meetings. Every meeting, we see people banging away on laptops or checking their smartphones every other minute. These distractions are just that: distractions from the flow, content and ultimately success of your meeting.

2. When you do utilize technology, choose tech that encourages active engagement. With remote workers and remote teams all over the world, technology powers long-distance collaboration. Choose whiteboards, work apps and virtual meetings technology that engages attendees with real-time polls, webcam video for every participant, collaborative note-taking, chat and file sharing.

3. Schedule IM and email “on” times during the day. IM and email are leading villains in the battle against work distractions. Schedule IM and email “on” times during the day, where you’re available for real- or near-time communication and response. But, even more importantly, schedule “off” times when you need to really focus on a project.

4. Work around your natural rhythm. We’ve all heard the phrase “I’m not a morning person” or “lunch coma.” Everyone has their own natural productivity rhythm, so schedule tasks that require creativity and focus during your natural up times during the day.

5. Put some space between you and your smartphone. 90% of 18-29 year olds sleep with their smartphones and half of all users check their phones immediately upon waking up. These habits wreak havoc on our waking hours, leaving us groggy and distracted during the workday. Put your phone on sleep mode outside your bedroom, turn it completely off at dinner and avoid pulling it out at your desk just because you’re bored.

Gadgets are fantastic. They’ve given us the freedoms to work from anywhere and create a flexible, fun and social lifestyle. Yet, with great freedom comes great responsibility. Use these five tips to give your brain a workout and your body the rest it needs.

Want to learn more about how to be a better collaborator or create great collaboration environments in your business? Check out this free eBook, The Future of Business Collaboration.