Smartphones, pads, pods, tablets, PDAs, laptops and other mobile devices are all supposed to make life easier. After all, you can do just about anything and go just about anywhere without missing an important email, phone call or text message. But when technological multitasking becomes a consistent part of your day it can serve to distract you from important tasks, rather than help you complete them.
According to the ABC News Online science section, this phenomenon is growing so rapidly that it even has its own name: frazzing. “Frantic multitasking” is the meaning behind the word “frazzing” and there’s nothing efficient or stress-free about it.
If you’ve fallen into the trap of regular frazzing, you’re likely to experience these issues:
- Time-Wasting Interruptions. Professor Gloria Mark of University of California, Irvine, studied a group of office workers over a 13-month period and found that technological multitasking led to work interruptions every 10 ½ minutes. To make matters worse, it took the average worker more than 23 minutes to get back to their task after being interrupted.
- “Where Was I?” Syndrome. Not only do frequent interruptions stop work flow, they also cause people to lose their focus. After stopping for emails, text messages or phone calls, many people find themselves wondering out loud, “Now, where was I?” Consulting firm Basex states that these kinds of interruptions can cause workers in some industries to lose over two hours of productivity per day, while costing up to $588 billion each year.
- Overloaded & Overwhelmed. When you get down to it, frazzing leaves a person feeling frazzled. There are those who feel they cannot meet their productivity requirements without it, but the expenditure of energy and adrenalin can leave you feeling overloaded, overwhelmed, and physically and mentally fatigued.
Setting boundaries is an important part of dealing with the stressful impact of multitasking. It might not be realistic to eliminate certain technologies from your life, but it is wise to limit, consolidate and organize your usage of them so they can truly help you, rather than cause undue stress. Use these tips to help you convert frazzing back into efficiency:
- Schedule Tech Checks. Since you’re able to see if most new messages or emails are urgent without opening them, there’s no reason to stop what you’re doing each time one arrives. Set specific blocks of time aside to catch up on email or respond to text messages to eliminate unnecessary interruptions.
- Create Boundaries & Communicate Them. The boundaries you set are only as good as your communication of them. Let your coworkers or family members know you can only respond to emails and text messages during specific times. Stick to your own boundaries so others can follow your lead.
- Use Silence Mode & the Stop or Off Button. No matter how resolved you are to reduce the stress of multitasking, a buzzing smartphone or “You’ve got mail!” sounding off every few minutes is going to distract you. Make it easier on yourself by turning your devices off or putting them in silent mode.
Smart use of technology can make your life easier and your workday more productive. Remain in control of your usage to prevent multitasking from controlling you. Keep it simple and balanced-technology is helpful and important, but it’s not everything.