Are you easily distracted and impatient? Technology could be the reason
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Insights: Are you easily distracted and impatient? Technology could be the real reason

Insights: Are you easily distracted and impatient? Technology could be the real reason

While technology offers wider connections, the quantity of these associations leaves people feeling qualitatively empty

Are you easily distracted or impatient? why technology could be the reason

We seem to be hastier at work. Observe a random group of colleagues in the office and you’ll notice they have a habit of checking their phones every three to five minutes, irrespective of what else they might be doing at the time. Unfortunately, haste creates an attitude of impatience and immediacy.

One study collected server data from 23 million online video views. The results showed that on average viewers began to discard the video they were waiting for if it took longer than two seconds to buffer.

In addition, for every second of delay, 6 per cent more viewers clicked on something else. In other words, a ten-second delay would cause two-thirds of the viewers to abandon the video and forage for another information source.

The quicker the better

Online retailers were always mindful of the “four-second rule”, which was the time a typical online shopper was willing to wait for a website to download. This has now been compressed to a “half-second” rule, another example of how we have become hasty and more demanding, seeking immediate gratification and abandoning information sources that do not deliver instantly.

Likewise, when we send a WhatsApp message and it’s not read or responded to immediately, we start to have dark thoughts about the other person – “Are they deliberately ignoring me?”, “Did I upset them?” Or when we comment on someone’s LinkedIn post and they don’t reply immediately, we feel slighted: “Was my comment not smart enough
for them?”.

Of course, the classic one is when the boss sends a group email, and after the first-person comments, there is an expectation that you also need to jump in with your two-bits-worth. In other words, stop whatever you are doing, fracturing your thought process, so that you can make some trite comments and stay on the good side of your manager.

Read: How disruptions lead to stress and reduced productivity

Quantity rules

Unfortunately, this is the reign of quantity and not quality. Typically, it would take 10 minutes to read the context of the email and respond to it and then another 15-20 minutes to get back to the same level of depth you were at before you got distracted.

The problem with this level of expectation is that more and more work communications are shifting from the real to the virtual world, and so we will encounter an increase in levels of anxiety. We will continue to feel worse, the hastier we become.

Communications technology seems to present us with the immediacy we crave, it takes us away from where we are and offers us wider connections. In one study the simple presence of a mobile phone and what it offers – disappearing into an online world of dopamine hits and making social connections – was a source of distraction leading to negative consequences in social and work settings.

Another study carried out by the University of Essex concluded that “the mere presence of mobile phones inhibited the development of interpersonal closeness and trust and reduced the extent to which individuals felt empathy and understanding from their partners.” The researchers also found that when the mobile phone was replaced by a paper notepad it improved these same feelings.

Of course, it’s difficult to move around without a mobile phone, but we can certainly remove it from our visual field when we are meeting someone or doing something important at work, otherwise, we will constantly be drawn to it. In addition, we can either continue to demand speed, and grow ever more hasty, or we can learn to slow down a little, reflect a bit more, and make better quality decisions with how and where we spend our time.

The writer is a Gulf Business columnist, author, and consultant. 

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