Fighting Digital Distractions


By Jeremy Office Special to The Pineapple Growing up I remember seeing my father working at times from his home office. These were the days before laptops, cellphones and wireless Internet. The other day, I found myself wondering how he could even work without modern- day technology and how productive he really was. I can’t help but think about how much I depend on technology and how I wouldn’t be nearly as productive without it. Advancements in technology have without a doubt bettered our lives and made us more efficient, but at what point do the benefits of technology start to diminish and actually reverse those efficiencies? Digital distractions in the workplace are becoming more frequent. As a business owner, I wonder if, with all of this technology, we are truly being efficient with our time. When I start my day each morning, one of the first things I do is check my email. As I sift through each message, I realize how much time of my day goes to just checking email. Of all the emails I get on a daily basis, 90% are not essential for my job. While I always welcome emails from clients and those who want to learn more about what Maclendon does, many of the other messages I receive are simply junk. To see if I was the only one in the office with the problem of too many emails, I asked the Maclendon OneTeam® to monitor their daily emails and report back to me how many messages were not business critical and how much time they spent checking email. We found that we individually receive about 75 emails a day to our server. Of the 75 emails, only six warranted immediate attention. Distractions at the workplace are nothing new, but the amount of distractions due to the advancement in technology is becoming a real problem. So I pose the question: Is modern technology creating a world of digital distraction? We live in an age of constant innovation and are inundated with information from our televisions, computers and cellphones. In the time it takes you to read this newsletter, you might have stopped to check an email, send a text or even visited another website. Since the amount of information we have access to today is exponentially larger than it was before the Internet, we find our days fragmented—we are constantly bouncing from one form of technology to another. Our ability to concentrate on one specific task has proven to be more difficult because of the growth in the number of distractions due to technology. We see people distracted by technology every day. Whenever they have a moment of downtime, most people reach for their smartphone. Whether it’s sending a text, reading the news or just surfing the web, we are always connected. Studies have shown that people consume 12 hours of media a day on average. The typical corporate user sends and receives about 110 messages daily and office workers check their email inbox 30 to 40 times an hour. Statistics like these suggest that we have become busy without taking advantage of the efficiencies that technology has graced us with. Of all the good that advancements in technology has brought, I sometimes wonder how positive it is for the long term. We rely so much on technology that independent and creative thought has been stifled. Our brains are no longer required to critically think through problems when all it takes is a visit to Google to obtain the answer. Technology has also changed the way we interact with people. Although we are more connected than ever, we couldn’t be more apart. The use of online social media means we meet face-to-face with much less frequency, resulting in a lack of much-needed social skills. Growing up today means that the main form of communication is through texting, where you can think through exactly what you want to say and how you want to say it. It’s almost as if the English language has now been abbreviated to the acronyms OMG and LOL. With all the social transgressions and digital distractions that technology has created, I still believe the good aspects of technology outweigh the bad. People have long been concerned that one day computers and robots will take over the world. In a way, they already have. We spend so much time on our computers and smartphones that we have become the robots. As much as technology has increased productivity, we are lost in a cyber-world and need to be cognizant that we shouldn’t rely on technology to be productive. So this is a call to action: Be aware of your use of technology. Are you busy making change, innovating products or increasing efficiencies? Or are you busy on tech for the sake of being busy? Jeremy Office, Ph.D, CFP, CIMA, MBA is Principal at Maclendon Wealth Management in Delray Beach and specializes in portfolio construction, strategic asset and liability management, and long term planning relating to financial matters as well as real estate, income tax, insurance and estate planning. He is also Managing Partner of SJO Worldwide a venture capital company. • 855.MAC.WEALTH