What’s a Gorilla got to do with my Focus?

Inattentive Gorilla

What do Technology and a Gorilla have in common? How are they connected to my focus and inattention?

Reliance on technology – phones, tablets, ipads, laptops is pervasive today and a necessary part of most of our professional lives. A report by the Nielsen Company found Americans spend nearly half the day on a screen of some type. That’s a lot of time being stimulated by the backlight of the device and  the steady stream of information. While there are clear advantages to having information at one’s fingertips to enhance productivity, extended use of screens is a brain-drain! 

Too much screen time can lead to problems with concentration and focus, and multiple devices can lead to inattentional blindness – focusing on one activity such as talking on the phone creates inattention to other stimuli.

Given that many of us are working from home and have increased our screen time, we must find ways to minimize the impact on our brains.

Which leads me to gorillas...

You may wonder how a gorilla could be invisible?

Well, in a study where participants were asked to count the number of passes made by the team in white uniforms, 42% failed to see a person in a gorilla suit. Just imagine what is being missed when focused on a phone, tablet or computer and how that reduces productivity!

 A constant flow of information from social media, news alerts, websites, emails, texts, even if positive can create overwhelm and possibly missing the gorilla in the room.  More importantly, your brain doesn’t have a chance to rest and becomes less productive over time. 

The good news is there are ways to mindfully leverage technology use to boost your productivity.

  • Begin by using one screen at a time.
  • Take frequent breaks, even if your job requires you to be on a computer – gaze beyond the screen for a few minutes throughout your day.   
  • Try using specialized blue filter glasses to minimize eye strain.
  • Create a work-space where you can write notes on a pad to take a break from screen time. 
  • Change your position – try standing whenever possible and take stretch breaks.
  • Put your phone and tablet away for the evening and do not bring them into the bedroom!