Code red! Danger! Distractions are incoming!

This is a siren that sounds in my brain (and yours) approximately every 8.25 seconds. That’s the current attention span of the average human, and it’s declining. It’s declined so much in fact that humans now have a shorter attention span than goldfish (9 seconds).

Just imagine those smug little fish swimming around their tank saying to one another ‘wow, you have the attention span of a human’… that hurts.

It’s easy to understand how though. Humans are under a constant barrage of attention-grabbing media and notifications from multiple digital devices.

BBC news wants to tell you of the latest news stories… PING, distracted.

Joe Bloggs wants to connect on LinkedIn… PING, distracted.

Work email from Lucy… PING, distracted.

WhatsApp group chat message… PING, distracted.

Your Fantasy Football captain is injured!… PING, distracted.

You have a new match on Tinder… (Just joking, that never happens.)

Examples like mine have resulted in us unlocking our smartphones on average once every 12 minutes and spending up to 40 hours per week on them.

What’s the problem? Productivity.

This ‘always-on’ media and relentless distraction are damaging to the way we work.

Distractions derail your mental progress of an activity. It takes around 25 minutes to return to the original task after experiencing interruption. Once you leave the focused headspace of trying to complete your own workload, good luck because it’s a long route back.

Work-related distractions are no exception to this.

How often have you felt exhausted after a working day, but when asked ‘what have you been up to?’ it’s hard to answer… sounds familiar, right?

We’ve all tried to spin multiple plates at once, juggling emails, video calls whilst trying to complete our own prioritised workload. This is often touted as ‘multi-tasking’ and is perceived as a greater gift than turning water into wine.

Unfortunately, working in this way isn’t effective. It severely reduces productivity and increases the amounts of errors in your work. Spending your day reacting to everyone else’s emergencies means you’re in a constant state of distraction, unable to focus and complete your own work priority’s.

Allocating time to complete your own work doesn’t make you a bad teammate. Set your phone to one side, let everyone know you’re going to be unavailable for an hour or two and find a headspace that allows you to focus on your own workload, distraction-free.

So go ahead, show those goldfish who’s boss and win the day.