While the rapid increases in technology have indeed boosted society's productivity in many ways, it also may be a major culprit to an individual feeling overwhelmed and unproductive. A recent blog in the Harvard Business Review explained how always keeping an eye on your phone, laptop, or email reduces your ability to focus 100% on the task you're performing. Because your attention is split, you are actually increasing the time it would normally take to finish your task by an average time of 25%. As HBR further illustrates, if you're always doing something, in this case giving attention to nearby technology, then "you're relentlessly burning down your available reservoir of energy over the course of every day," leaving you with less every hour.
To combat this problem, the article offers several suggestions, both from a manager's and an employee's standpoint. Two such recommendations that are applicable for almost everyone are:
- Do the most important thing first in the morning, preferably without interruption, for 60 to 90 minutes, with a clear start and stop time. If possible, work in a private space during this period, or with sound-reducing earphones.
- Take real and regular vacations. Real means that when you're off, you're truly disconnecting from work. Regular means several times a year if possible, even if some are only two or three days added to a weekend.
This advice is also very relevant for survivors in the workforce who may be having difficulties related to chemo brain. A related article on the Cancer and Careers website on managing stresses related to chemo brain highlights the importance of focusing on one task at a time as you work toward regaining a better memory and other cognitive skills.
To read the entire HBR blog, including steps managers can take to increase their employee's productivity, click here. Also, check out our video on dealing with ongoing side effects at work for advice on making the burden less difficult.