Digital Distractions – Why Are We Making It Harder Than It Has to Be?

Someone has to say it: we, modern knowledge workers, are drowning in digital tools! Literally drowning.

Technology is so pervasive these days that it’s not just hard to put down the phone or turn off the laptop – it is as close to impossible as it gets.

An average worker (that is: you or me) checks their email and IM every 6 minutes.

More facts that will make you think twice (The stats below are courtesy of a RescueTime service, which analyzed the 185 million hours of work logged in their software in 2018):

  • 41% of a day is reserved for multitasking with communication tools
  • We are using about 56 different apps and websites, switching between them nearly 300 times per day
  • 30 minutes is how much an average worker can stay focused, without any distractions. 30 minutes!
  • During working hours, we spend 21% of our time on devices – wondering through entertainment, news, and social media. And it’s ok. One needs to relax and reset. But, a 2009 Stanford research demonstrated that heavy multitaskers are actually most exposed to distraction and least versed at quickly changing between tasks. The painful truth is that multitasking creates emotional satisfaction and the illusion of productivity.

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According to IDC, a rapid digitization cost reached more than $1.3 trillion dollars in 2018 alone. Worldwide, of course.

No matter what industry you’re in, you must be a part of the race that aims to reach maximum digitization of processes across all departments: from sales and finance to customer support and beyond…

Still, many companies tend to work in an outdated manner – using folders, files, spreadsheets, and emails for today’s complicated digital landscape. Old habits die hard, we know. However, things are rapidly changing as the need for innovative ways to plan, execute, and measure work at a strategic level are growing by the day, dictating new rules.

First of these new rules is the one that eliminates or at least minimizes the excessive information flow. If we don’t shut off notifications, we are likely to experience a non-stopping fusillade of communication and information.

Even after work.

One could say that communication has never been so easy, but at the same time, it has never been so harmful and distracting, either.

Don’t believe us?

Take a minute to think about this.

Only 4% of knowledge workers (that have been asked about communication and data, their flow and intensity) said that they wanted more. Only 4%!

Other 96% said politely: Thank you, but no thank you. 40% said they have good data but are struggling to make the right decisions with it.

Wondering why?

Maybe this will help:

The amount of data is estimated to reach 163 zettabytes (i.e., 163 trillion gigabytes) by 2025!

And the scariest part is not its amount. No. It’s the fact that most of it is partially or completely unstructured.

This leads us to a crisis. A digital work crisis.

Overwhelming software options, endless iterations, global competition, isolated workers, communication overload, information overload, and increased rate of technological change… These are all components of that crisis that had been knocking on our doors for some time now.

What is the solution?

We all need to leave behind our old preconceived ideas on how to do business. Days when work was uncoordinated, disconnected, inconsistent, unpredictable, invisible, and unmeasured – must be as far as possible.

What we need to do now is to simplify and streamline the complicated confusion of the way things are now. We must integrate digital technologies to rein that chaos. There is no other option. We must admit that we need help and support.

The first step we have to make is to define what information should reach us at all during working hours. Make a plan for when you’ll check the messages on your phone, new work emails and requests from your coworkers. Add some free time for your mind to wonder, after all day dreaming at work doesn’t have to be all bad.

Also, there is a number of tools that we can use as assistance in organizing our work. Check to see if any of them are a fit for your company and if they would actually help minimize distractions instead of just enhancing the chaos.

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