Dealing with Distraction
Fifteen years into the commercialization of the Interent, Duke University English Professor Cathy Davidson, a cofounder of HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory), an international network of academics inspired by new technology, says we are at the perfect moment to begin developing practices to deal with the onslaught of
information, the reality of constant connectedness, and the challenges of global collaboration. She admits, new technology puts
stresses on our old, automatic ways of paying attention. She offers a number of ways for managing distractions at work:
; Plan office interruptions into your day, whether a walk at lunch or a
face-to-face meeting. Within your workplace, colleagues should have the
ability to “hole up” solo or together on a project, free from constant connection to the rest of the world.
; Try reserving separate screens or even separate devices for Facebook,
Twitter, and other distractors. If they are in separate rooms, even better.
; Get into the habit of tagging complex matters to be discussed later. In
real time, Davidson sends her colleagues e-mails with the subject line
“Agenda;” at their weekly conference call, she’ll search her email for the
term and a list of items to discuss is at her fingertips.
; If chronically distracted, look below the surface. While we complain
about e-mail interference, the two most distracting things in any life are
emotional upset and physical discomfort—heartache and heartburn.
Fast Company, July/August 2011
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