Chances are, you're doing lots of other things simultaneously as you're reading this: checking email, IMing, maybe even doing a little work. By now we know that multitasking isn't all it's cracked up to be, but journalist and author William Powers takes that idea even further. In his new book Hamlet's BlackBerry, Powers suggests that we spend far too much time staring at "screens" — everything from computers to iPhones to TVs — and that our productivity is suffering because of it. Keep reading to find out more.
Powers is not antitechnology, but he does think that we benefit most from all our "screens" when we also take frequent breaks from them. Being constantly connected, especially at work, leads to what he refers to as "perpetual haze and poor work habits." I can definitely relate. During my workday, I don't feel satisfied unless I have a million things going at once: personal email, Facebook notifications, IM conversations with co-workers and friends. Some of these connections are necessary to get my work done, but mostly they just pull my attention in different directions, leaving me feeling scattered and ultimately less productive.
If you feel the same way, take a cue from Powers and try "disconnecting" more during your workday. Obviously you can't go completely off the grid while you're working, but you can sign out of IM for a couple of hours, set a designated time for checking email instead of reading each one immediately, or commit to only checking your personal email once or twice a day.
It's not easy — I'm trying it out today and am already having to resist the urge to scratch my Facebook itch — but chances are you'll feel more focused, centered, and productive. If you give it a shot, let us know how it goes!