May 10, 2009

short attention

A man walks down the street
He says, "Why am i short of attention,
Got a short little span of attention
And woe, my nights are so long..."
- Paul Simon, Call me Al

According to the CBC, the average worker or person on a computer only focuses on one task for three and a half minutes before diverting to something else (check an email, internet...). And the average person in a workplace is interrupted every 10 minutes. They went on to suggest that have become so used to being interrupted that we actually self-interrupt just to maintain that same pattern - we've learned to work in small spurts rather than sustained concentrated efforts.

I do know that my productivity and efficiency at my last job improved when I started turning off my email program, only opening it at prescribed times of the day when I then gave each email the full attention it needed immediately upon opening it. And I also know that even when I'm deeply into writing an article or reading something online, I automatically drift over to check the inbox or click on Facebook or any other non-urgent task, almost just to give my mind a quick breather.

That is what this research piece concluded - that it's actually good to let our minds take a quick break in this way, break out of the thought pattern and come back fresh. The study found that workers who do quick and not-too-often web-browsing at work are 9% more productive.

This has led me to the life-altering philosophical discovery that we all - oh wait, my "You've Got Mail" icon just flashed, back in a sec...

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