The need for constant stimulation is destroying attention spans. An inability to lend attention when it is needed has disrupted the capacity to be productive as well. Regardless of the work involved, technology has created easily accessible diversions that keep us from engaging in work and engaging with others. Many of us have been unprepared for this aspect of technology and unequipped to confront it. In my effort to have better control of how I spend my time (i.e. not wasting the parts that I do have control over) there is one piece of counsel I implemented in my own routine. I did so because it has the propensity to carry a heavy impact into our productivity if we rightly use it: schedule your connectivity.
Schedule the time in which you will go online; schedule the time in which you will look at and respond to e-mail; and especially, put these limits in place for social media. Instead of allowing the internet to control us, we should be controlling the internet. After all, it is a tool to be harnessed to aid in our work, in our play, and in our responsibilities. This means being very intentional in how and when we use it.
For some people, if they prefer, there are plenty of apps that will help you with this. For myself, I don’t utilize an application because of two reasons. First, I am too cheap and don’t want to pay for something that I should be able to control. However, if you are a person that needs that extra accountability, then the fee may be worth it for you and I would urge you to do that. The second reason is that I desire access to the internet continuously because there are certain tasks that I do that require internet use. For example, writing for me often involves research and additionally, I like utilizing an online thesaurus that is constantly open when I am writing. However, for internet use that does not aid in accomplishing my duties or are not essential, I permit myself three points during the workday of 30-60 minutes each for online use, most of which is spent reading and returning e-mail.
Three tips to help you in this process. First, be flexible. By far e-mail is the biggest issue for many people and for some of you a couple of times a day for 30 minutes is not feasible. Perhaps more communication happens by e-mail and often times requires more immediate action. Then permit yourself 30 minutes for every hour of work or something to that effect. Scheduling your time should be helpful, not hurtful. A second note though is to be reasonable. Too often we try to justify more time by saying something to the effect of, “I’m important and if I don’t respond to an e-mail in 10 minutes, things will falter, and so I must be available.” Rarely is that the case. So be reasonable in your assessment. Finally, adapt. It may take some time to figure out just what kind of system and time frame works for you, so try something for a week and if that doesn’t work, then adjust it accordingly.
Technology is a great thing in so many ways, and so we should be thankful that we live in an era in which so many inconveniences are minimized as a result. However, like anything made and used by sinful people battling the flesh, we must utilize it with discernment so that it does not become a hindrance to walking in the Spirit.