We live in a world of distraction. Cell phones are always with us and always on. Blackberrys and iPhones constantly tell us, "You've got mail." News is 24/7. Whoever survived downsizing is supposed to do the jobs of two or three people. TWD (texting while driving) has become so prevalent there is a name for it and legislation against it. Open space offices, although designed to promote creativity and teamwork, also increase interruptions and stimulate a chaotic work environment. No doubt, some people thrive in this kind of environment, but for many others it is detrimental to their productivity and health.
According to Geri Markel, there are eight demons that contribute to distraction in the workplace. She writes:
In this 24/7 world, the lines between work and life are blurred and distractions interrupt and interfere with performance. Labeled as demons, there are eight types of distraction that negatively affect attention, memory, organization, executive function, and critical thinking.
The eight demons of distraction include technology overload, interruption by others, over-scheduling and inappropriate multitasking, noisy or messy [work] space, stress, fatigue, illness or medication, and unruly mind.
What Markel means by an "unruly mind" inlcudes hyper-attention to one thing at the expense of everything else, constant daydearming, or a racing thought process.
Markel says these demons can be managed, but it requires a plan, a strategy, tools, feedback and support from others, and, I would add, determination. Markel's book offers some methods and tools for getting these demons under control and using them to their advantage. The goal is to become more attentive, less stressed, and more successful. We could all use that!