What distractions are hindering your life

Digital distractions in everyday work

Everyone knows it: A short interruption, the current activity, to scan the latest posts on Facebook and Co. on your smartphone. Even if there was nothing interesting the last time, curiosity leads us to pick up the cell phone again.

On average, we interrupt our work every 18 minutes to take a look at the smartphone. Alexander Markowetz, researcher at the University of Bonn, found this out with the help of more than 60,000 user data. Such interruptions bring a lot of dangers with them. In the following article we would like to explain to you what these are and how you can deal with them.

The most common digital interruptions in the job

Social media is a particularly common source of distractions in the workplace. For many people, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Co. have become an integral part of life and so people are busy sharing, liking, posting and tweeting during work. It has become a real addiction to be up-to-date anytime, anywhere. In this context, the next big disruptive factor can also be brought in: WhatsApp. According to a study, Germans spend an average of 41 minutes on WhatsApp and open the app 26 times a day. A good part of this is at the expense of working hours.

Other digital disruptions include private web surfing. Quickly skim through the results of the last day of the game, read the news or substantiate the train of thought you have just formulated. But that is exactly where the problem lies. A search on the net that has nothing to do with the actual task assumes that you have not been focused on your work beforehand and that you have already pushed other topics in your mind. The quality of the work can only suffer as a result. Also, don't underestimate the distractions of incoming mail. Information about a newly arrived e-mail pops out and that was it with concentration. If you can do without it, turn off this tooltip and check your inbox after completing your task.

Digital distractions and their consequences

Even an interruption of a few seconds can significantly increase the error rate. The reason is obvious: the brain, which was previously focused on one thing, should suddenly adjust to new information. Switching back to the actual work simply does not work without losses. Now you can say that you are capable of multitasking and can therefore concentrate on several things at the same time. However, the human brain thwarted our plans because it was not made for multitasking. It cannot process several tasks in parallel, but jumps back and forth between different tasks.

In addition to an increased error rate, this also increases the stress level, while performance decreases. As a result, several tasks are left behind and can no longer be switched off properly even in leisure time. The consequence of long-term psychological stress is an increased risk of developing burnout, heart disease and depression.

It all depends on the right handling

Since the smartphone has become indispensable and, in today's fast-paced world, an equally fast data exchange is important, the correct use of cell phones and the like is more helpful than not doing it completely. Schedule fixed times for breaks in which you can fully devote yourself to digital topics. It is important here to strictly adhere to the self-set time and in self-control.

If you have to and a quick glance at the cell phone is essential, try to briefly record your work status in writing. This will bring structure to your day-to-day work and make it easier for you to return to work.

Aids for concentration

A concentrated and structured way of working inevitably reduces interruptions, which is why we want to introduce you to techniques and programs that strengthen concentration.

The Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro technique was named by Francesco Cirillo, after the Italian word for tomato. It can be traced back to the fact that Cirillo used an egg timer in the shape of a tomato for the application of his technique. The technology is easy to understand, but implementation requires good self-management.

On the technology: Divide your working day into several small units of 25 minutes each.

During these units you will only devote yourself to your work. After the end of a unit, you have a five-minute break at your leisure. Repeat this combination of session and rest two more times. After the fourth unit, you will take a long break of 30 minutes. Now the cycle starts all over again. Try to break down large projects so that you can get a partial result in the 25 minutes.

There are a variety of techniques for good self and time management. In the linked article, we will introduce you to further techniques and assistance in order to better structure your working hours.

Technical help for self-discipline

Anyone who knows that they have problems following the rules they have set themselves can get support from various apps or programs in order to avoid the digital distractions. There are programs that block previously specified websites until a temporary block has been lifted. Even restarting the computer does not change anything about the lock. There is something similar for iOS and Android devices. With the Offtime app, for example, you can block entire apps, prevent messages and notifications and block calls. The Time Out program takes a different approach. It reacts to self-determined break intervals and disguises the screen within these breaks, which enables regulated break times. Regardless of whether it is self-imposed rules or an app that supports you: A given framework for breaks will consolidate your work structure and allow you to work more concentrated.

Don't forget the familiar

Aside from the digital distractions, one shouldn't forget about the real-world distractions that have the same effect. For example, private conversations are very important for a healthy working atmosphere, but remember here too that you will lose the concentration you have put on a task and will find it difficult to regain it. A nicely worded advice that you need to concentrate right now and that you would like to take up the conversation within the next five minutes will not be offensive to you.

The classic interruptions also include private phone calls and e-mails, smoking breaks, technical problems, going to the printer and much more.

Of course, some interruptions cannot be prevented. But maybe you let yourself be delayed a little to be able to complete current tasks first.

If the battle against distractions doesn't end in your favor, don't let it get you down. Interruptions are simply part of everyday working life. We can only learn how to deal with them properly. Admit your susceptibility to disruptions, actively search for the sources and find the right way to deal with them.

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