CEO Blog



The demons of distraction

Anne Marie Forsyth, CEO, CCA
14/12/2018

This week I became aware of exactly how much screen time I devote, with the very revealing new Apple iPhone update. 

How much?? No surely not, can’t be so much I’m thinking, but of course it is. It’s a bit like a credit card bill, you hope there’s a mistake but of course there never is. 

It’s not hard to see why when you look at the breakdown, yes it’s all there, who knew I could spend so much time on WhatsApp, and as for photos, my only excuse is that it’s coming up to Christmas and of course I’m searching for the perfect snap I know I have somewhere in the last year, amongst the 2,998 infuriatingly tiny images.

And my excuse for online hours has a little to do with my inability to remember the 16 digit credit card number no matter how hard I try (I’m too suspicious to store the number) not helped by the fact that my well-worn black on black card is impossible to read without a magnifying glass and a spotlight to boot - bah humbug indeed!

Of course the real reason most of us spend so much time on our phones is that demon called distraction.

How often do you pick up your phone for a specific purpose, a text to arrange something; an hour later you remember (if you’re lucky) the text hasn’t gone, but you’ve answered a few emails, forwarded a funny photo, and followed the enticing path down a Linkedin feed, wishing people happy birthday and congratulations along the way.

We all do it. Some more than others admittedly, but what’s the cost of all of this? Who are the winners and losers? And does it matter?

There’s lots of theories about the consequences of this digital distraction, one of the more serious ones has to do with our lack of focus.

It’s now thought that employers have to compete hard to win this focus in order to get the dedication and innovation that’s required to improve productivity and thrive in a highly competitive and volatile marketplace.

We know from numerous pieces of research that hopping about on multiple platforms, managing diverse tasks in tandem, is highly ineffective, but worse, is really bad for our mental health. 

One of the biggest areas for organisations fighting for attention where supply of content outstrips our ability to comprehend, retain and action, is how to make a message stick.

We know that there’s little appetite for in-depth analysis of lengthy reports, instead we rely on snappy sound bites and tweet sized words of wisdom.

One thing we know for sure is that there’s no going back from digital overload days, but perhaps the next phase for 2019 and beyond is how the technological wizards who trap us with their irresistible offering can also help us focus more and wander less, in order that we can actually solve some of the biggest business conundrums. 

Now that’s quite enough screen time for tonight. You’ll be pleased to know that I’ve resisted the notifications, apart from the ‘it’s time to get some rest’ from my Fitbit - now that’s helpful! 

Have a great weekend everyone and hopefully the Christmas run up is fun as well as frantic!


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