Does the current life around technology affect our focus?

“If you want to be happy, do not dwell in the past, do not worry about the future, focus on living fully in the present.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

The early 2000s saw the burst of the dot com bubble and within a few years, our lives transformed tremendously as we galloped towards the ever-changing world of technology. It swept into our personal lives as much as it did into our professional lives.

Another major event that transformed our lives enormously was the pandemic. During this time, technology was a blessing that helped most of us work from home, helped our children study from home, and bring our loved ones that lived far away from us closer.

The pandemic altered the way many of us worked. It even changed the lives of people who already worked from home by forcing them to be on zoom video calls more than they ever have in their lives. While the work-from-home phenomenon worked great for some, it did not for others. “Zoom fatigue” is a term used frequently during the pandemic to the increase in screen time. For many, technology did not and could not replace the in-person experience. For many walking by a co-worker’s cubicle for small talk and other things brought happiness.

But the recent sessions with my clients see a new worry about returning to work. The cost of returning to work is determined by multiple factors like the cost of gas, coffee, lunch, and casual meetings with colleagues and friends at happy hour.

More than 80% of my clients for leadership and executive coaching are from the technology industry – engineers, data analysts, scientists, you name it. A common theme that I see in their strengths assessment is that most of them score low in focus, which makes me wonder is multi-tasking possible?

Not really! At least not most of us.
Most of our brains choose to focus on one task at a time, the one that seems to be more important at that time. Subsequently, multi-tasking may affect our efficiency.

Some of the factors that affect our focus are:

Social media
Distractions through technology and social media seem to be a constant factor that affects our focus. What should be a means for communication and interaction now leads to an overload of information and content sharing. Although this is a powerful tool, this overload of information and ideas has led to a lot of mental health issues. The polarization of content can lead to misinformation rather than gaining valuable insights. Online conversations and discussions can lead to offensive verbiage that only contributes to pointless distractions.

Personal and professional task list
I have had multiple clients walk into my sessions saying they are overwhelmed with the list of tasks that needs to be done. It feels like a million things and not enough time to do. When we are distracted by the number of things we need to do, it leads to poor stress management and emotional regulation. Listing down the tasks and visualizing them is a good first step in tackling the tasks. Doing the tasks that are chores such as laundry and walking your dog that distract you can be done during breaks from more meaningful work on a more regular basis.

Living in the present

It is a pattern that I see among some to see people planning the future to such an extent that we are living in the future and forgetting to enjoy our day-to-day lives, and our simple joys. Putting too much emphasis on our goals, in other words, being too goal-oriented to a point where nothing else matters can lead to poor stress management and eventually not enjoying the process. Goal-setting is important but I have had some clients who are too goal-oriented on the end result and failed to focus on the process. This can ironically lead to more stress and poor focus.

Being grateful for the blessings that we have every day, showing compassion to yourself and others, practicing meditation, and understanding the perspective of others by empathizing with others may help in improving one’s emotional well-being and subsequently expand their focus.

I have learned through my interactions with multiple clients that compassion can be an alien concept to some. Some may feel they are not worthy of others’ compassion and some may feel others are not worthy of their compassion. Coaching, practicing mindfulness, and imagery exercises can help create more self-awareness that can help the clients move towards a course of action that may improve focus.

Hamna Siddique is an Executive and leadership coach focusing on behavioral factors that influence success at work. Email: hamnasiddique@goldbridge.llc. |https://hamnasiddique.com| © 2022|Goldbridge Coaching LLC |All Rights Reserved|

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