How many screens are on your desk? You probably have a desktop or laptop computer, possibly with a second monitor, a smartphone, and maybe even a tablet. For decades many of us have been guilty of cluttering our taskbar with numerous applications running simultaneously, shifting overlapping windows around a finite electronic desktop. With myriad conflicting demands on our attention every day, multi-tasking has become a way of life for most of us working in this digital age. But it is easy for a group of files summarized by a single taskbar icon or a cluster of tabs in a web browser to become confusing, distracting, and difficult to prioritize.
Consider this counter-intuitive remedy: using more devices can help focus attention, rather than fracture it. And here’s how…
Try creating task silos by using each piece of hardware for a different purpose. For example, if you need to read a lengthy document without interruption, send it to you iPad and avoid the persistent pop-ups from your email vying for attention. Have one device dedicated to communicating and reserve the other for continuous reading. If you have a business purpose for interacting with social media, consider isolating this interaction to your smartphone apps.
We used to shuffle papers around our desks and shift attention naturally by setting one down and picking up the next. It can be difficult to replicate this clarity of purpose with all of our documents and communications piled on a single screen. But as high-resolution technology becomes ever more pervasive, developing specific task assignment for each device may allow us to manage the load physically once again. Of course, there is no guarantee of improved productivity if we do not use the technology mindfully, but it does open the door to a strange and inviting technological future where our desks are layered with screens but the organization feels simpler.
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