29 Aug Be master of your technology, not slave to it
For all the wonderful benefits that have come with rapidly improving computer and mobile technology in recent years, there are a number of legitimate concerns about our dependence on gadgets. Smartphones in particular appear to be having an impact on our productivity – Deloitte has found that users aged 18-24 check their phone an average of 74 times per day – but all modern devices are contributing to the issue.
Given the relative youth of the smart device industry – let's not forget the iPhone is less than 10 years old – the full impact of this heavy use may not be known for some time. However, some studies suggest that being overly enamoured with your gadget of choice could have lasting consequences.
Research from Microsoft has shown that the average human attention span has diminished by one-third since the turn of the century, from 12 seconds down to just eight in 2013. Troubling statistics such as this suggest that, far from being a benign addition to our lives, excessive device use can hamper productivity.
Small business owners are responsible for the health and wellbeing of their employees while doing their job. That means creating a workplace where people can get away from incessant notifications should they find themselves beset by texts, tweets and emails. Let's look at some ways you can free yourself from the never-ending stream of alerts and really get some work done.
"Do Not Disturb" mode can be configured to improve your productivity.
Do not disturb
They may have started with the birth of the cell phone and SMS technology, but notifications have somehow found their way into almost every device we have. The chime of a text message, the vibrating buzz of an incoming call or the ding of an email – as satisfying as they sometimes are, there's no argument that they can severely distract us from tasks.
According to the Harvard Business Review, we don't even have to check every notification to experience productivity problems; simply knowing that they are coming in can be enough to cause a disruption.
Countering the issue could mean turning every notification off for each individual app, however most modern operating systems are designed with measures in place to prevent distraction temporarily when – and where – required. On iOS devices or Mac the feature is known as "Do Not Disturb" mode, and it can be configured to improve your productivity at times when you need it most.
It's simply a matter of manually switching on the mode when you don't wish to be interrupted, or scheduling certain times of the day when you need the break from notifications the most. A simple feature such as Do Not Disturb mode can make a huge difference to the work rate and wellbeing of you and your employees, so perhaps your office could benefit from iPhone and Mac integration.
Unshackle yourself from the office
Should the relentless onslaught of notifications reach crisis levels, sometimes the best solution is to unplug and enjoy some time away from your workstation. Research has proven time and again the value of taking a break in the workday – ducking away from your computer screen for even just a couple of minutes can be hugely beneficial.
Building a mobility element into your IT solutions can improve productivity.
Health Decide notes that studies have shown taking a break of up to five minutes can improve mental acuity by 13 per cent, while regular breaks of two minutes can increase productivity by over 11 per cent. Simply put, distancing yourself from your workspace at regular intervals is likely to make you a better, more functional worker.
For some of us, the very idea of stepping away from the computer for even a few minutes could be a source of anxiety, so maintaining an emergency tether may be necessary. In this instance, building a mobility element into your IT solutions can offer the best of both worlds – the freedom to leave the office and get out for some air, while remaining connected enough to respond in the event of an emergency.
Apps are the answer
It may seem counterintuitive to use your smartphone or computer to conquer your addiction to said device, but there are apps available for every OS to help reduce your dependence. On iOS devices, for example, the Moment app allows you to set daily usage limits on your iPhone with an alert to indicate when you've gone over.
For a different approach to distraction-free working, SelfControl on the Mac allows you to block certain websites for pre-set periods. Need to concentrate for an hour? Use the app to restrict your access to social media URLs. There are all manner of options to help you stay on task, no matter which device you're using.
If you're after equipment to help your office stay productive – anything from better mobile IT integration to Mac rental – talk to the team at Imagetext Integrated Solutions today.