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Technology and Employee Burnout: Don’t Have Them Unplug. Teach Them to Lean In.

Stronger focus can help fuel progress in all areas of life and bring with it a better sense of accomplishment and balance

We live in a technological age. Devices connect employees continually, and their use (and overuse) can sometimes lead to unintended consequences, including overwork and burnout. 

The constant presence of tech seems to correlate with another trend—the erosion of the average attention span—with a series of studies showing a decline from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013.

At first thought, one way to reverse these issues would be to encourage employees to spend more time away from screens. Sometimes that can help, but in our era of ever present tech, it isn’t always feasible. An alternative solution may be to train employees to lean in to tech use with greater focus.

Any aspect of life and work can benefit from greater focus. Whether collaborating with co-workers, e-mailing, writing a work project, composing the perfect tweet—whatever they’re doing—encourage employees to focus intently in that moment, and minimize distractions. It will help them get through it faster, and with better results.

Here are some tips anyone can try to strengthen attention to better balance tech use and attention.

Focus and focus again. Even the most attentive among us will lose focus sooner or later. The trick is to realize when your attention goes off track and act accordingly. Remember, you can choose where you focus your attention. If you find your mind wandering, notice it, acknowledge it and then gently bring your attention back to what you were doing.

Turn off distractors. “Connection oversaturation” is one of the main causes of wandering attention. On average, computer users check their e-mail 30 times every hour at work, and once focus is pulled, it’s hard to get back. When you need to focus on a computer-based task, try closing all irrelevant browsing tabs, turn off e-mail applications and disable notifications. Consider putting your cell-phone out of sight in a drawer, pocket or purse as well.

Do one thing at a time. Research has proven that when we attempt to accomplish multiple tasks at the same time, the quality of each suffers. And, constant switching between tasks only distracts from completing any one objective.

Building attention and focus is like any other skill. It gets stronger with practice, and can eventually help us get more out of everything we focus on, like work projects, communications with co-workers or family, or playing a sport or instrument. Stronger focus can help fuel progress in all areas of life and bring with it a better sense of accomplishment and balance.

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