Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

How to keep digital distractions from killing your creativity by Brian Solis, Harvard Business Review

385 views

Published on

Inspired by the findings in his new book, Lifescale: How to Live a More Creative, Productive and Happy Life, Best-selling author and keynote speaker Brian shares the professional impacts of digital distractions on creativity and productivity. In this special contribution to Harvard Business Review, Brian shares how to do more creative work when you can't stop looking at your phone.

“There are two ways to readily influence behavior: manipulate it or inspire it. Technology companies have chosen, for the most part, to manipulate it. Many have found the attention economy wildly lucrative,” writes Brian Solis in this HBR article. How susceptible are you to the near constant pings of pop-up notifications from digital devices? How are these digital distractions impacting your creativity, productivity, and happiness? In this article, Solis explains how he found the balance by scheduling distractions into his day. And while it was easier said than done, he acknowledged that hard work in this area can pay off – for both individuals and the companies they work for. Download this article for his approach.

Published in: Business
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

How to keep digital distractions from killing your creativity by Brian Solis, Harvard Business Review

  1. 1. REPRINT H04ZH6 PUBLISHED ON HBR.ORG JUNE 05, 2019 ARTICLE PRODUCTIVITY DoingCreativeWork WhenYouCan’tStop LookingatYourPhone byBrianSolis This article is made available to you with compliments of The Enterprisers Project for your personal use. Further posting, copying, or distribution is not permitted.
  2. 2. PRODUCTIVITY Doing Creative Work When You Can’t Stop Looking at Your Phone by Brian Solis JUNE 05, 2019 YAGI STUDIO/GETTY IMAGES The onslaught of digital distractions is taking a big toll on businesses. A new survey from Udemy finds that it’s a special challenge for Millennials and Gen Z workers, 36% of whom report spending two hours or more each workday “looking at their phones for personal activities.” As they lose time to all the distractions around them, employees are “stressed, unmotivated, and feeling bad about themselves, their jobs, and their careers,” the poll found. Three quarters of those who have learned to reduce distractions say they’ve become more productive. 2COPYRIGHT © 2019 HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL PUBLISHING CORPORATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
  3. 3. It’s the latest addition to a mountain of research warning about this problem: Previous HBR articles have explained that “digital overload may be the defining problem of today’s workplace,” and that even simply having a phone nearby damages workers’ performance. So there’s no doubt that steps must be taken to reduce workplace distractions like the constant notifications popping up on screens. But in tackling this problem, businesses also face a Catch-22. The propensity to distraction can also be a good thing. It’s been shown to help increase creativity. As Northwestern University summarized it in a headline, “Creative genius driven by distraction.” A study found that “leaky attention may underlie both costs and benefits of creative cognition; noise and other environmental stimuli can serve as distractors for creative people, and lead them to make errors on some tasks. At the same time, leaky attention may help people integrate ideas that are outside the focus of attention into their current information processing, leading to creative thinking.” After wrestling with this challenge myself, I discovered that there is a way to maximize both focus and creativity — but it takes work. A few years ago, I found myself in a professional crisis. I wasn’t making headway on any of my projects. My productivity and creativity had plummeted. I realized that I had become addicted to distraction. I was online or on my phone virtually all the time, needlessly consuming content with no real bearing on my personal or work life. The irony was not lost on me. I’ve spent my career as a digital analyst, so I am well aware that many apps and social media platforms are specifically designed to be addictive. There are two ways to readily influence behavior: manipulate it or inspire it. Technology companies have chosen, for the most part, to manipulate it. Many have found the attention economy wildly lucrative. I didn’t realize that I’d be so susceptible. So now, I set about finding a solution that could work for me and the businesses I advise. Productive distraction They key, I discovered, is to accept and even embrace the desire to check notifications, read various media, or even watch videos — but to teach myself patience in doing so. I began to build my workday with frequent breaks for “productive distraction.” I use these planned breaks to let those impulses run free. I also try to include something physical during breaks, like a moment of simple, brief meditation, which helps reset my mind and gives me fresh perspective when I resume work. Being organized about this makes all the difference. Research has found that scheduling these pauses boosts creativity. 3COPYRIGHT © 2019 HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL PUBLISHING CORPORATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
  4. 4. Because I know these breaks are coming up, I find it easier to stop myself from giving into every distraction. I can simply tell myself that I’ll have the opportunity to follow that impulse when the next break hits. It took months, but I got my periods of continuous, intensely focused work up to about 22 minutes, using my own take on the the Pomodoro Technique. As a result, just like the people surveyed by Udemy, I found myself not only more creative, but also happier. (In the survey, three quarters of people who have learned to reduce distractions also report being more productive, while 56% say they’re happier at work.) Taking control For the millions of workers surrounded by an ever-evolving set of digital distractions, all this may sound easier said than done. It takes intentionality. Every day, we each have the choice to commit to changing our behavior. That includes unlearning bad habits, such as frequently checking social media platforms (which have “hijacked” our psychological propensity for social reciprocity). Much of it boils down to redefining FOMO, changing it from “fear of missing out” to “finally over missing out.” A researcher at Copenhagen Business School, writing in MIT Sloan Management Review, casts productive distraction as a way of balancing curiosity and concentration, maximizing the extent to which you both “actively seek diverse input” and focus on tasks at hand. I’m proof that it can be done. Brian Solis is principal analyst at Altimeter Group and the author of Lifescale: How to Live a More Creative, Productive, and Happy Life. 4COPYRIGHT © 2019 HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL PUBLISHING CORPORATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

×