Is your computer distracting you?

I came across a very interesting article which discussed how we use our brains to multitask on the electronic gadgets that fill our pockets and desktops. I’ve known for a long time that using the computer actually makes me feel less productive. Granted its difficult to accomplish anything these days without a Google search or a quick scan of your Twitter feed for the latest news. Much of the information we receive comes from digital magazines, digital newspapers, digital news reports. Yet, it seems like the more information I expose myself too, the harder it becomes to process it all, complete tasks, and still keep up on maintaining relationships with friends and family. The story reports that we scientifically become addicted to our technology because our brains often release dopamine during our 12 hours of media consumption and engagement each day.  Supposedly we view 40 websites on an average day during that time. As sick as that my sound, I believe it. If I visit less pages, it probably means I’m spending more time on each and still writing blogs or checking email for the same about of time.

Digital consumption means different things for different people. High multitaskers are prone to actually being less effective, while low multitaskers can better block out pointless distractions. There is a pretty neat test you can quickly take yourself . I think my results shown below are fairly accurate.

I think it is interesting that when there are 2 distractions (50% – irrelevant information) nearly everyone performs about the same. However, when you add more irrelevant information (up to 75%) with 6 distractions, suddenly you can tell who is best at staying focused on the task at hand.Although I am capable of multitasking, I consider myself to perform more efficiently and with higher quality work when I am able to concentrate on one task at a time.

The second test is much more challenging and measures the time in milliseconds that it takes for you to react to a task with an answer. What interested me here was that I performed quicker each time I switched tasks (from letters to numbers and vice-versa). When repeating the same task, I somewhat anticipated a switch, slowing my reaction.

Some information suggests the Internet might make us smarter. But it could also be hampering our creativity and ability to communicate using proper English. Certainly YouTube videos do not all add to our level of education nor do they regularly spark serious or intellectual debate. Face it, there is a lot of junk out there in cyberspace. Evidence suggests that more than half of all Twitter accounts are non-active and likely created by bots or spammers. Additionally, our gadgets can be distracting and make us less efficient with our precious time. Now it starts to make since why those companies that allow more relaxed lunch breaks, or encourage personal creative time (Google and 3M are known to do this)  can be highly productive and innovative.


Test yourself:

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