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Posts Tagged ‘deep work’

a lawn mower

On Monday, Facebook and Instagram were down for about six hours. Did you panic? My guess is that unless you run a business or depend on Facebook for ad revenue, you survived the six hours. It is interesting how connected we are to our phones and digital lives, yet when forced to be without them for a period, life goes on. Monday evening I mowed my grass for two hours and I had one singular focus: to mow. Imagine what my yard would look like if I were watching a video, scrolling on Facebook, or texting while mowing. It seems crazy, yet that is what we are often doing on our digital devices – multitasking.

Technology has allowed for multiple means of connecting with family and friends. Using technology as a tool to be more efficient can be a benefit, but if not managed, these multiple forms of electronic communication can be stressful to the person. This technostress, which is the stress of being overwhelmed by technology, does not allow us to easily disengage from social media or our devices. Our phones allow us to multitask by being at one location or event while communicating or doing tasks not related to the occasion. Constantly being on the phone was initially a young professional phenomenon, but now owning a smartphone is commonplace in all generations as most people have a smartphone. Even the presence of a smartphone nearby causes a person to wonder what they might be missing by not checking notifications.

Productivity and solving complex problems have been reported to improve given blocks of uninterrupted time free from technology to focus on specific tasks. Author and Professor Cal Newport coined a term for these blocks of time called “deep work,” which he defines as “professional activity performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that pushes your cognitive capabilities to their limit.” Just as the social media outage gave us the ability to have a block of time without technology, I want to invite you to schedule your own “outages”. These deep work blocks of time could give you a focused time of productivity, as multitasking is just task switching. In addition, screen free times can allow our minds a break from technology. Even if you don’t have a yard to mow, schedule time on the mower and give yourself a break!

Written by Dr. Mark D. Light, Leader, Ohio 4-H STEM & Digital Engagement Innovations

Reviewed by Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension Franklin County

Sources:

Light, M. D. (2021). Exploring the Adaptability of Ohio State University Extension County 4-H Professionals to an All-Digital Setting During the COVID-19 Remote Work Period Based on Selected Variables and Their Relationship to Change Style Preferences (Doctoral dissertation, The Ohio State University).

Newport, C. (2016). Deep work: Rules for focused success in a distracted world. Hachette UK.

Sellberg, C., & Susi, T. (2014). Technostress in the office: a distributed cognition perspective on human-technology interaction. Cognition, Technology & Work, 16(2), 187-201.

Sykes, E. R. (2011). Interruptions in the workplace: A case study to reduce their effects. International Journal of Information Management, 31(4), 385-394.

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