We all have days we feel unproductive or that we did not do anything. When you feel you are not productive, the chances are that it is because interruptions and multitasking drain your energy. When you juggle multiple things simultaneously, like; sending an email, text a friend and checking your Facebook while you are in a meeting, you engage in context switching. In a research done by Gloria Mark of the University of California, Irvine, it showed that it takes an average of 25 minutes to return to the original task after an interruption. Since we are interrupted more than once, this adds up quickly and before you know it you feel like you have done nothing that day.
Clifford Nass, a sociologist from Stanford University, has researched the impact of multitasking and found that people who engage in multitasking are “suckers for irrelevancy.” We engage in multitasking because we are distracted by notifications, which are addictive. We cannot control ourselves; we must look at the notification to see who or what wants our attention. Every time a notification pops up on our screen, we get a rush that releases dopamine.
Dopamine is one of the body’s happy chemicals; it controls the “pleasure” systems of the brain and makes you feel joy. This joyous feeling is addictive and makes us seek out behaviors that stimulate dopamine. You can think about food, sex, drugs and the notifications you receive on your screen. While dopamine may cause a rush, it also exhausts us. That is why you still feel tired at the end of the day while you have not been productive. This is a harmful process, and we need to stop this pattern.
The Fix: Eliminate Browsing
Being productive can be as simple as taking control over your day. What harms your productivity the most is browsing. It absolutely kills it. We’ve all experienced a distortion in time when we are browsing. “What?! I just did NOTHING for 2 hours.” Yes, we even do this at work. Set daily priorities, book your calendar full, etc, the point is; do something.