We talk a lot about multitasking. But, simply put, there is no such thing as multitasking. When we try to do simultaneous tasks, we simply decrease the amount of attention we give to each of them, and lengthen the time it takes to accomplish any one task. Also, the more tasks we try to manage at the same time, the more we activate stress hormones like cortisol, which actually serve to inhibit peak performance.
Not to mention, the ever-present vigilance needed to always be “on” and available via Smartphone, email, text, Twitter and the web creates greater degrees of distractibility, poorer concentration and lower work output. We need time “off-line” to create space to re-charge our nervous system so we can function at peak performance.
The stress that comes with receiving too much or too frequent input depletes your ability to manage stress effectively and deal with normal work-day challenges. In order to be off-line more, and be a little less accessible, the corporate environment needs to change. Organizations need to support staff members and create space for personal down time where employees are not expected to instantly respond and remain in that hyper-aroused and vigilant state. Down time is necessary for your brain and nervous system to regenerate, or refresh, the psychological and intellectual mechanisms that allow you to achieve peak functioning.
Digital technology – such as the Internet, computers and smartphones – have all promised greater effectiveness and efficiency, but they have failed to deliver as promised. While they are necessary for our work, our over-reliance on technology has created a positive illusion that blocks the reality of how much time is truly wasted. Efficiency is frequently lost to non-work related Internet use, technical down times and techstress burnout from over-accessibility.
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