Everyone fights for our attention in today’s hybrid worklife. Learn how focus improves your brain health and why multitasking destroys it.
Our modern environment is often called “the attention economy”. Every time we search the Internet, we have to fight off ads trying to catch our attention. When we pick up our phones to make a work call, we get distracted by news or messages before we actually get on with our task of calling.
Performing in a shattered environment
It’s difficult to pursue a single course of action and be the masters of our own attention today. In this shattered environment, we are supposed to be creative, think, learn and cooperate: perform at work, in other words.
Focus - the opposite of multitasking
Focus time is necessary for our performance and cognitive functions like organizing and structuring information, planning and evaluating consequences.
This is a challenge today. Digital information is “always on” 24/7 and distractions are everywhere. That doesn’t help us focus on one thing at a time the way we should.
Switching between tasks kills performance
Multitasking doesn’t work and it never has. Our working memory has limited capacity. When we think we are multitasking, we are in effect constantly switching between tasks and all that switching comes at a cost: our focus. Instead of performing one task at a time effectively, we underperform in several tasks at once.
5 hacks that strengthen focus
A workplace that cares about employee performance also cares for their brain health. There are many ways to support focus. One way is to make sure technology helps us focus instead of the other way around.
Here are five hacks that can help you strengthen focus in the workplace:
- Set a routine to only check email and communication channels a few times a day.
- Encourage people to turn off notifications on all devices while doing focused tasks.
- Let employees book focus time in their calendars and make sure everyone respects it.
- Respect other people’s time. Only book meetings with a clear agenda and only invite those who really need to attend.
- Take several short breaks during the work day. Get up and move around. Our bodies and brains need physical activity to focus and perform.
Read about Humly Workplace Solutions here.