The author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, professor of psychology at Claremont Graduate University in California, is the author of the concept Flow. Put simply, we all have the ability to develop a flow with the activities we participate in whether they be work or recreation related. We often describe this sensation as “being in the zone,” periods of time that are often accompanied by heightened creativity and productivity. Unfortunately we are reminded by Leon Ho at Lifehack.org, as the proliferation of information technology continues we find ourselves being consistently bombarded by minute distractions that break this cycle.
technologies is getting quicker and less turnaround on responses.
Consequently, this also leads to more interruptions and less time
between each interruptions. Both are big problem for all of our
productivity seeking individuals.
It has been documented that interruptions, such as multi-tasking, lead to a drop in
productivity, a situation I believe a majority of us have experienced. In 2001 Dr’s Joshua Rubenstein, David Meyer and Jeffrey Evans published an article in the American Psychological Society’s Journal of Experimental Psychology which tracked the “time costs” associated with constantly having to deal with these distractions. So what is the solution?
It is easy to suggest unplugging, scheduling time away from what has become a 24/7 world of cellphones, VoIP, and email, but is this an opportunity for something greater? In a later work, The Evolving Self: A Psychology for the Third Millennium, Csikszentmihalyi urges that the time has come to begin altering our behaviors and taking on activities that lead to greater complexity.
As we move forward do we need to push ourselves to develop a ‘chaos competency’ which may allow us to partition our thoughts in a hierarchy of ‘flow?’ Where one activity may be mentally paused while we attend to another? This is not a simple undertaking by any means, it took millennia for our brains to develop just to cope with our natural surroundings, it is reasonable to assume it will take longer to adjust to our own creations. Whatever the answer, it seems unlikely that interruptions and multi-tasking are going to disappear and that we must develop mechanisms to deal with these situations. We just need to be content with the end result when the time comes.
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