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Employees have access through numerous devices, applications and platforms to vast amounts of work-related and nonwork-related information. While experts and studies say technological distractions are making us less productive, knowing more about technology’s capabilities could actually make us more efficient.
Cornerstone on Demand’s latest Workplace Productivity Report found that 47 percent of surveyed employees were overwhelmed by technology and 16 percent felt technology was hurting their ability to be productive.
Companies are trying to address workers’ difficulties managing technology.
They are eliminating voice mail and embracing apps
that reward employees who shut off their mobile phones.
“It is estimated that interruptions consume 28 percent of the average workday and cost companies more than $650 billion a year,” author, app creator and productivity expert
Geraldine Markel, Ph.D., told
“When you are distracted or interrupted, you lose your focus,” she said. “Your efforts to be productive are thwarted. You lose your place when reading, writing or calculating; waste time getting back on track; and feel frustrated and irritated when you don’t complete tasks with accuracy or completeness.”
Markel said overwhelmed workers can take control of distractions in three steps:
Productivity expert Mike Song, CEO of GetControl.net, a Connecticut-based time management training company, said people can learn how to effectively use technology to manage their time.
His videos show
how to use the dictation function on iPhone and Android devices to quickly send better e-mails and how to organize e-mails within Gmail and Outlook.
Song said employees should focus on one task at a time.
“It’s more about disconnecting the dings, the pop-ups, the buzzes, the rings … because our human brains love information.
We love to multitask, [yet] all the research seems to indicate we’re not good at it,” Song said.
App developer Steven Ismach agrees. Technology, he says, “has us doing a lot more at a lower level.”
Ismach teaches Talmudic Law to high school students as an assistant rabbi at Young Israel Academy in Great Neck, N.Y. “I see the distractions with kids and their phones,” he said. “Some schools are trying to integrate the phone into the learning experience, and even that balance becomes hard.”
For those who lack the willpower to shut off their mobile phones, Ismach’s app,
OFFr, incentivizes employees to stay off their phones for certain periods of time by offering them prizes like gift cards or a free lunch when they do. (A timer records how long users have the app open without doing anything else on their phones.) Registered employers are notified when an employee participating in the app’s incentive plan hits a cellphone-free milestone at work.
How to Be More Productive
Defeating the 8 Demons of Distraction: Proven Strategies to Increase Productivity and Decrease Stress (iUniverse, 2008), Markel is also creator of the productivity app 8 Demons, which aims to help people work more efficiently and without distraction. She offered these tips:
Aliah D. Wright is an online editor/manager for SHRM Online.
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