Few of us are unconnected anymore. Americans spend on average 79.9 hours a month surfing the Internet, text messaging, going through email, tweeting or engaging on other social media, according to IDC Research, an information tech research firm. When you're that hard-wired into the system, it's hard to focus on any task in front of us—at least well.
While it's a simple task to turn off your smartphone or log off email and social media, few of us do. Instead work time is a juggling act, focusing on a project for 20-25 minutes, stopping to answer an email, heading back into a spreadsheet, then reading a link one of your Twitter pals shot across their feed. Our need to zip across screens? Researchers are finding out that it may be a physical urge—much like addiction.
So maybe it's not just hard to turn off your Twitter account while at work—your brain is actually fighting against you. In recent years, some have adopted the Sabbath Manifesto, a one-day 24-hour break from all their digital connections and devices, set annually each March. While a one-day vacation is helpful, that does little on a Tuesday in mid-August when a buddy's vacation photos are flashing across Facebook and begging for a quip.
Like any addict, you may need help. Having some tools to help transfer and focus your attention when trying to work may be the key. If it’s ironic that these are technological solutions to a problem of too much technology, the key is not to give up the digital tools but to learn how to focus when distraction is thoughtlessly easy.