Bursts of information inhibit our ability to focus
A recent article in the New York Times, (“Hooked on Gadgets, and Paying a Mental Price“, 6 June 2010) argues that multitasking makes it difficult for people to focus on a specific task. This is because the brain has been trained to pay attention to the kind of constant interruptions that characterize online work and play. Email, Twitter, and other services that deliver a continuous flow of information create a constant distraction that we become accustomed to. As a result, we lose the ability to concentrate on any single activity for an extended period.
Fortunately, there is a cure, or at least a partial solution. The article includes a plug for RescueTime, a web-based analytics and time management tool for “knowledge workers who want to be more efficient and productive“. The company also offers a “team time tracking solution for powerful business intelligence” that helps managers to track the productivity of groups and individuals. Workplace surveillance never sounded so good. Of course, the service comes at a price – US$6 – $9 per month for individuals, or up to US$15 per user per month for the “Team Edition”. For individuals looking for a “freebie,” there is “RescueTime Solo Lite.” Rather than trading money, you simply trade your privacy.