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Sunday, December 04, 2016

Productivity, Interrupted - Breathing Space Blog

Paul Radde, Ph.D. author of Thrival says "Cell phone use is not just plain rude, it is mentally distracting and abusive to others. Cell phone use captures the brain's interest in completing the conversation, so whether the user is broadcasting or simply within earshot, the Zeigarnik effect kicks in. This is the same desire for closure that makes the effects of multi-tasking akin to the effects of post-traumatic stress."

The Zeigarnik effect is characterized by the tendency of people to remember interrupted tasks better than those that have been completed. "Once taken off one task, without completing the transaction," Radde observes, "the mind continues to seek closure. If you have a number of things going, but none of them to completion, you have these tensions tending toward completion -- and that is stress-provoking."

It's not that you can't get things done with the use of a cell phone; indeed, you can get a lot of things done. However, the nature of what you get done is highly skewed. Just as the man with only a hammer sees everything as nails, the incessant cell phone user accomplishes a variety of tasks, understandably enough, that accrue directly to having a cell phone. In other words whatever can be handled by a phone call is more likely to be tackled than say a problem that requires solitude and abstract reasoning.

Sometimes this get-it-done kind of individual overdoes this stay-in-touch aspect of what he's trying to accomplish. How often do you need to stay in touch with your office? Would every 60 minutes do it, or would 45 minutes be better, or 30 better still? What kinds of new tasks and new responsibilities at work are you creating for yourself and others as a result of the constant communication and, need I say it, over-communication?

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