Step Away From The Tech: How Electronics Drive Us To Distraction (Part 2)

It looks impressive. A table full of engineers, all with their laptops open, ready to meet and take notes. It looks impressive, but it’s actually very inefficient.

From Silicon Valley to academia, experts are realizing that allowing people to bring a laptop into a space set aside for some other purpose yields less than desirable results.

Research has shown that students who take notes on their laptops in class are also prone to be distracted by non-note taking tasks, such as surfing the internet. In one study, participants were asked to attend to a university-style lecture while taking notes on their laptops. Half the participants, by random assignment, received additional instructions to complete a series of non-lecture-related online tasks at any convenient point during the lecture. The students who multitasked did 11 percent worse on a comprehension test covering the lecture. That’s equivalent to a whole grade lower in a class.

And not only were the laptops distracting for the students using them, there was a secondhand smoke-type effect, as well. Those glowing screens were even more distracting for other students simply seated nearby. Students who had a multitasker in their sight line did 17 percent worse than students who did not.

We understand the word multitasking as to mean engaging in two tasks simultaneously. But true multitasking is only possible when two conditions are met:

1) at least one of the tasks is so well learned as to be automatic, and

2) the tasks involve different types of brain processing, such as happens when you read while listening to classical music.

These conditions are not met when we bring our devices into meetings.

Still not convinced? Here’s one big reason everyone can get behind for why you should ban tech from your next meeting:

Your meetings will be shorter.

With fewer distractions and interruptions, and more active participants, you might even be able to cut your meeting time in half.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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