No this isn’t about disruptive technology, advances which will transform life, business and the economy as we know it. This about technology disrupting workflow, breaking concentration and even becoming an obsession.
Technology when used properly and when required is an asset and can make work and life much easier but it also can be a time waster and make tasks more complex than they need to be.
Social media made easy due to technology is one of the biggest disruptions to productivity.
The number of devices any one person carries with them is also increasing and commanding more attention than ever before. It is not unusual for one person to carry a smartphone and a tablet or iPad and it is not unusual for them both to ping, bong or burble at the same time. It is usual for that person to then check what has come up on that device and the probability is, it is not about work.
Then there is the computing device sitting on that person’s desk, where their work should generally be done. Some organisations will put limitations on sites that can be reached within the work environment but this can be complex, must be maintained and can cause issues for someone actually trying to do their job.
Even email and messaging in the course of doing your work can be disruptive as most people will see an email arrive and feel they must read it immediately. Unless a critical email is expected, a time should be allocated during the day to check emails, see what is urgent, what can be acknowledged to be dealt with later, what can be ignored and what can be deleted.
Having mobile devices where email and other social media can be checked, also means many people feel they need to be available to respond at any time. The thought of actually turning the device off overnight or during dinner shocks them or makes them nervous but really the sky won’t fall in.
You can read articles about the super successful people and one of the recurring habits relates to certain tasks being done once in a day. It also applies to returning phone calls, assess their importance and deal with them accordingly.
Instant messaging, unless it is part of your job, should be turned off because unfortunately the “instant” seems to resonate with most people. Some organisations use this for communicating with customers, so it is valid and can be effective, otherwise block it.
Collaborative tools such as Yammer and Google Drive among many should be treated like any other meeting – set a time, set a limit and stick to it. Generally, you don’t just go and walk into an office or up to a desk and start talking, most people are polite enough to find out if you can be interrupted, it is the same over the internet.
Constant interruptions will definitely disrupt focus, thought processes and problem-solving, anything which requires concentration and sometimes it can be difficult to pick up a train of thought and that time is lost.
Even five years ago, a management science company’s research estimated that distractions cost U.S. businesses $588 billion per year, a number that continues to grow, who knows what that figure is now.
To-do-lists, a calendar and defining priorities are key to managing the work day whether technology is involved or not. And of course, discipline.