In 2013, the National Center for Biotechnology Information reported that the average attention span of a human has dropped to a mere eight seconds, one second behind that of a goldfish. Why does this matter? Distraction in the digital era has become an epidemic, robbing us of our focus, decreasing our productivity and hindering our overall life satisfaction. Our jobs today are “interrupt-driven,” with distractions not just a plague on our work—sometimes they can mean the difference between success and failure.
Instead, messages undiscerningly bombard us, with the senders rationalizing that we can choose when and where to open a message. A recent survey of smartphone users found that:
- 67 percent of cell owners find themselves checking their phone for messages, alerts, or calls—even when they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating
- 44 percent of cell owners have slept with their phone next to their bed because they wanted to make sure they didn’t miss any calls, text messages, or other updates during the night
- 55 percent of workers reported checking their email after 11 PM.
As New York Times Magazine’s Clive Thompson writes, “Information is no longer a scarce resource—attention is.” In this Digital Era where work/home/play are blended together, we may not always have a choice about our work schedules or our work priorities; however, there are powerful things that we can do to regain a sense of control about our happiness at work.
By practicing these happy hacks in your life, you can learn to manage distraction in the digital era and set yourself up for a future of greater happiness and well-being in the long run.
Amy Blankson has become one of the world’s leading experts on the connection between positive psychology and technology. She is the only person to be named a Point of Light by two U.S. presidents for creating a movement to activate positive culture change. A sought-after speaker and consultant, Amy has now worked with organizations like Google, NASA, the US Army, and the Xprize Foundation to help foster a sense of well-being in the Digital Era. Amy received her BA from Harvard and MBA from Yale School of Management. Most recently, she was a featured professor in Oprah’s Happiness course. Amy is the author of two books: The Future of Happiness and an award-winning children’s book called Ripple’s Effect.