The craving for distraction
BUSINESS MATTERS BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - September 15, 2019 - 12:00am

Ever fall in line behind the counter of a bank or a fast food resto which all it takes is a few minutes? Yet watch what people do; they pull out their phones and start scrolling the screen. There was a time when people start sending out SMS. Now they either scroll the screen looking over their FB pages, and some are even watching videos, playing games or watching movies. People today hate waiting and crave for distraction so that the waiting process may not be noticed.

Paying attention is now a challenge. Ask trainers, and they will tell you that people today have a very short attention span. It has been researched and found out that the average attention span of adults have been reduced to only 6 seconds and some reports are saying that goldfish have an attention span of 8 seconds. Humans are not worst off than fish, though I have always wondered how they measure the attention span of a goldfish.

We need to focus our brains and be selective about the use of technology. In the modern world, our brains are wired and the same has grown accustomed to the craving for distraction. People are glued to their screens – they are refreshing their Facebook pages, sending or reading messages, playing games, or watching videos. What a terrible sight. And what do all these things lead? It leads to our inability to focus.

A well-known technology company announces that in their findings, you and I look at our phones a total of 150 low to 300 high times every day. I think they have a term for this and it is called “addiction.”

Last year I heard Arianna Huffington said, “we are addicted to our phones whether we care to admit it or not.” Alcoholics do not place their bottles on their bed but many people even sleep with their phones tucked under their pillow.

Work and free time are essential to the restoration of energy. The one thing we have in common with smartphones is that excessive use of it makes us “Low Batt” and we need to recharge to restore energy. Just think about it. When you get home from work, there is a point wherein you would like to do precisely nothing. This period of “nothingness” means no effort to complete tasks. We want to recharge yet what happens today is that we end up doing the same routine every night. We watch TV, binge on series, scroll through our phones or stare deep in our computer screens. After a few hours of doing this and when it is finally time to go to bed, we end up more tired than when we get home leaving us depleted of the required energy to do work the next day. And this cycle continues.

Somebody says: “Instead of scheduling the occasional break from distraction so you can focus, you should instead schedule the occasional break from focus to give in to distraction.” And if you sincerely desire to eliminate the addictive pull of entertainment sites that continually grabs your time and attention, you and I need to give our brain a quality alternative.

I am active with social media. I post stuff every day, answer questions, and I do all these by myself. I do not have an associate or an assistant to help me with this. The number of followers has steadily climbed over the years. But what a lot of people do not know is that I limit myself to only 20 minutes every screen session. I understand that distractions will rob me of the precious time that would have been used for more productive endeavors like reading a book, writing an article or doing research for my next training program.

Multi-tasking or better known as “switch-tasking” has become our default state and it kills productivity. We need to take back control of our time by eliminating distractions and allowing our brain to focus on one task at a time. Focus today has become a skill to acquire and to acquire it we must.

Put some structure and discipline into the use of social media and entertainment. Use these digital tools and never allow these to use us. Take control of our lives. Smell the flowers, walk on grass as the saying goes. Take occasional “digital sabbath and remind ourselves that we are infinitely and incomparably better than a fish you know!”

(Attend POWER UP: WORLD OF CX! As international speaker Krish Dhanam together with industry experts and practitioners AJ Rocero, Ralph Layosa, Josh Supan and Francis Kong share winning ideas on delivering Excellent Customer Experience in the digital economy. Happening on Oct. 2 from 9-5 at Samsung Hall, SM Aura, BGC. For registration or inquiries contact Kim at 0977-700-0093; CJ at 0917-629-9401 or register online at

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