Put down your smart phone…

The more I watch the way people behave with mobile devices the more uncomfortable I become. I was secretly pleased a couple of years ago when my son justified his use of a Nokia (non-smart) phone, “Makes and takes calls, sends and receives texts. What else do I need?”

I have regular conversations with dentists and practice managers who face resentment at best and mutinies at worst because team members aren’t allowed to keep their phones with them (and on line) at all times, on the pretext of “what happens if someone has to get hold of me?” which really means, “but I’ll have to go without Instagram/FB/Snapchat/Twitter/etc.” (Perm any 3 from a multitude).

This comes from The Economist via “Memex” (the blog of John Naughton which I consider to be essential reading).

Distraction is a constant these days; supplying it is the business model of some of the world’s most powerful firms. As economists search for explanations for sagging productivity, some are asking whether the inability to focus for longer than a minute is to blame…..

….Distractions clearly affect performance on the job. In a recent essay, Dan Nixon of the Bank of England pointed to a mass of compelling evidence that they could also be eating into productivity growth. Depending on the study you pick, smartphone-users touch their device somewhere between twice a minute to once every seven minutes.

Conducting tasks while receiving e-mails and phone calls reduces a worker’s IQ by about ten points relative to working in uninterrupted quiet. That is equivalent to losing a night’s sleep, and twice as debilitating as using marijuana. By one estimate, it takes nearly half an hour to recover focus fully for the task at hand after an interruption. What’s more, Mr Nixon notes, constant interruptions accustom workers to distraction, teaching them, in effect, to lose focus and seek diversions.

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