Focus and concentration on your everyday tasks are affected by many factors that are mainly derived from the environment, as well as your own biological makeup.
There are a few peculiar elements of modern technology that affect our job more than we might think. These device-induced issues can negatively impact performance in the workplace.
Monitors have different screen configurations but LED-lit LCD screens still remain the technical standard.
Unfortunately, this means that the bane of our bodies’ circadian rhythms is something that we are exposed to every single day. No, this isn’t about those crazy claims of LCD monitors causing cancer. Screens of almost all devices and monitors today often emit blue wavelength light, a type of light that is used by most organisms on earth to signal wakefulness, as it is naturally emitted by the Sun.
The trouble is that when you stay under artificial lighting for long hours your body clock gets disturbed ever so slightly. The blue light keeps subtly reminding your body that it’s still not time to rest just yet.
This might be better in the short run for extending your work time. But in the very long run, it puts a strain on your ability to sleep regularly. And without regular sleep, your brain cannot imprint new information properly, stunting your ability to work in the immediate future.
Due to how embedded these technologies are in our society today, there is no absolute technical solution for this. But it would help to mitigate the effects by turning off these sources when you take breaks, by using special polarized glasses, or by simply scheduling your work smartly to reduce overall exposure.
Okay first, no need to panic. The small humming noise coming from your PC cooling fans don’t have any significant impact on your health. They may be annoying when you’re trying to take that power nap before your next set of document edits, but nothing too serious to write home about.
The problems arise when there are a significant number of PCs and other similar units working in unison. They can collectively create a monumental noise, such as those produced by data centers. As mentioned in the above video, a typical data center hall can be as loud as your own alarm clock.
How does this affect your job? Centralized company workstations may produce enough noise levels that literally cause a marked reduction in focus, increasing susceptibility to error.
Of course, as creatures of habit, we might eventually get used to these noises. Then again, constant office noise may help to explain the rise of (ideally noise-cancelling) headphones being worn at work.
But an even better and more permanent solution is usually to find the root cause. Whether it’s cranky old cooling fans, or noisy hard disk drives, consider upgrading your 'mainframe' hardware to a model or type of technology that produces less noise.
Reply interruptions and notifications
Lastly, as far as distractions go, chat apps almost always get forgiven due to the apparent harmlessness of simply replying to messages. After all, these might be work related messages, so it is perfectly fine to keep them on.
But chat apps can be a really bad interruption that prevents you from optimizing your brain work flow during productive hours. And it doesn’t take a neuroscientist to figure this out. It’s enough to see just how much wasted time gets added up with every single interruption caused by checking or replying to messages.
Of course, chat apps themselves are not the root cause of evil. Notifications are after all, a great way to make information instantly accessible. Chat apps can also be great collaborative tools for optimal productivity. It just needs to be open and available at the right time, and used with the correct app.
Additionally, group associations built off these apps should also be taken into consideration when trying to figure out which ones to temporarily ignore.
For example, you might want to turn off your hobby group Discord channel in favor of keeping your development team's Guild group open.
Photo by David Travis on Unsplash.