Why Being Distracted Impacts Results in School, at Work, and on Vacation

Second waterfront pic April 2014It’s August. While many parents are getting ready for The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?when kids head back to school, many kids are happy just being ‘distracted’ from the topic of school! I mean, isn’t that what summer vacation is all about – distraction!

Well, perhaps.

However, the topic of distraction – or lack of presence – is an important one for any time of year.

I read this post from SmartBlog on Education titled ‘Digital Distraction in the Modern Classroom‘ and it caused me to ‘pause’ on this topic.

I’ve had an ongoing dialogue with my children about how all of the research on the brain shows that MULTI-TASKING DOES NOT WORK! Multi-tasking results in ‘continuous partial attention’; we partially attend to many things, and are not fully attending to anything. Our performance drops and so does our energy.

My son, now heading in to grade 12, regularly told me about how often he used his cell phone as a part of his in-class learning in grade 11. While I agree with Paul Barnwell, that ‘smartphones can be powerful tools for learning’, I also cannot help but notice how ‘distracted’ my son can be when he is in the vicinity of his cell phone. Barnwell, it appears, experienced the same phenomena in his class. The kids are not just doing research in class. They have mutliple tabs open and they are checking email, texting, tweeting, facebooking, instagraming, tumblering, snapchatting, gaming….

And then I started thinking about what I hear people saying about their workplaces. Just like classrooms, I wonder what we are missing because we are continuously engaged with technology (interestingly enough, in an attempt not to ‘miss’ anything!!)

Even on vacation, I know that well over 50% of people report that they check their phones to try to stay ‘up to date’ on what is happening in the office, and to ensure they are managing their increasing workload as well as possible.

But, I wonder, at what cost?

So, for the rest of your vacation, put your technology away for at least one day a week. If you are at work, limit checking your email/phone to a specific time period each day (a great habit to develop, and advertise to people in your network. For example you could set your out of office message to read ‘I answer email messages from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. each day. If this is an emergency please call em at 123-456-7890.’). And, if you are getting ready to head back to school, practice being present while you are in class. If your teacher encourages you to use your phone to do research, then go to town! If not, turn your phone off and notice what you notice when you are right there – engaging, interacting, listening, and connecting with the people around you. You might just find that you really don’t know what you are missing.

Then, please take a minute to share your experience with the rest of us!

Deri Latimer is an expert in positive possibilities for people! She is one of fewer than 10% of speakers globally who hold the designation of CSP (Certified Speaking Professional), the international measure of excellence for professional competence, proven experience, and optimal client satisfaction. Deri combines a business degree in human resources management with 20 years of experience engaging audiences across every business sector. Deri provides inspiration and information to create psychologically healthy organizations for increased positivity, productivity, and profitability!


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