Welcome to Prosper, where you get data-driven
life advice. And on today’s episode we’re going to take
look at digital distraction. And you will learn whether this ubiquitous
access to information impacts your wellbeing, your productivity, your enjoyment of social
situations, as well as your learning and memory. You also learn the two triggers that prompt
you to seek this digital distraction, so that way you can be more conscious of it, and have
the power to stop it. Be sure to stay until the end, where you will
get a list of 13 research-backed strategies that will help you take control of your life
in this age of information abundance. Because that is what this channel is all about,
giving you evidence-based life hacks so that you can reach your full potential. Okay, just how distracting is the outside
world to us in today’s society? Consider the fact that there are billion-dollar
tech companies out there that attract the smartest engineers, data scientists, and UX
designers and they are all tasked with trying to steal as much of your attention as possible. Because when you live in a society with information
overload, attention is a scarce resource. But let’s have a look at what the data says. Is technology really that distracting? Here are five quick data points. First, the average number of times a phone
is unlocked is 80 times a day. This equates to an unlock every 12 minutes,
during waking hours. 69% of those aged between 25 and 35 would
feel worried if they were separated from their smart phone for a day. Sales of dumb phones are growing by 5%, while
smartphone sales are only growing by 2%. Three out of five Londoners said that they
miss their bus or tube stop because they were on their phone. 18% of all fatal crashes in the US in 2010
were estimated to be the result of distracted drivers. This resulted in a loss of 3092 people. So, what is happening here? Well, the answer is that we are all carrying
around with us, very powerful devices. First, let’s rewind to 1981. Imagine if you will, sitting down to your
morning coffee, turning on your home computer to read the day’s newspaper. Well, it’s not as farfetched as it may seem. So as you just heard, here the concept of
sitting at a desk in the morning to read the news on a computer was mind blowing. But they couldn’t even imagine the reality
as it is today: you don’t even need to get out of bed. So in many ways, as amazing as these devices
are, we really need to be careful of their potency. And let’s call these devices for what they
actually are, distraction machines. With that in mind, let’s now take a look at
what the primary reasons why people end up being distracted by these distraction machines. In a Nelson survey, people were asked why
they use a smartphone. And the top situations where, when alone,
when bored or killing time, or when waiting for someone. So what’s interesting here is that, instead
of being alone with your thoughts or connecting with the present moment, it appears that we
are immediately choosing to distract ourselves. So now let’s take a look at what the potential
consequences are of this constant digital distraction and information overload. Firstly, email checking. In a 2015, study participants were told for
one week to check their emails only three times a day, instead of an unlimited amount
of time. But then the next week they then reverted
to checking emails an unlimited amount of time. What happened? These findings provide causal evidence that
checking email less frequently can directly decrease stress, with potential downstream
benefits for wellbeing. Okay, now let’s take a look at smartphone
notifications. In another study, they instructed people to
maximize notifications on their phone through notifications and sounds for one week. The week after, they then asked them to minimize
notifications completely. Can you guess what happened? “Participants reported higher levels of inattention
and hyperactivity when alerts were on, then when alerts were off. Higher levels of inattention intern predicted
a lower productivity and psychological wellbeing. These findings highlight some of the costs
would be ubiquitous connectivity, and suggests how people can reduce these costs simply by
adjusting existing phone settings.” So here, increased notifications meant that
there was increased in attention and increased hyperactivity. In other words, ADHD. “To the extent that people normally attend
immediately to find notifications and random interruptions tax attention, phone notifications
may cause people even not diagnosed with ADHD to suffer from inattention and hyperactivity.” Okay, so now let’s take a look at dining out. Are you like this guy when you’re at dinner
with a friend? There was a study that looked at this. The participants who had their phones accessible
during dinner reported not only enjoying the dinner less, but they also felt more distracted. So that’s something to think about next time
you’re at dinner with your friends, and your smartphone’s on the table. What about the effects of memory? So in another study, they evaluated the performance
on two groups of university students that were studying the same subject, but assigned
to different lectures. Electronic devices were prohibited if the
lecture was an odd number for one group, and for the other group, electronic devices were
prohibited if the lecture was an even number. So that way they use a counterbalanced experimental
design. What happened? It was a longterm retention of the lecturer
and the subsequent exam performance that was heavily impacted. Okay, so here, the takeaway is that if you
want to get at least 5% more on your final exam, or maybe 5% more overall memory retention
on whatever it is that you’re trying to learn, then really think about minimizing digital
distraction. Now, why do people distract themselves? In the book The Distracted Mind, the authors
posit that there are two main reasons why people seek digital distraction. The first is to avoid boredom, and the second
is to avoid anxiety. So there you have it, those are the two triggers. And in terms of the solutions, there are two
categories of things that you can do. You can change your brain, and you can also
change your behaviors. Okay, so here are then, the 13 tactics that
you can use to change your brain, to change your behaviors and defeat digital distraction
once and for all. Firstly, exercise. So numerous studies have shown the benefits
of exercise on not just improving your fitness, but also your executive control, your memory,
and your ability to avoid distractions. Secondly, meditation. So have been multiple studies on this as well,
and I won’t go through them all now, as it deserves its own video. But here is a quote from Richard Davidson,
a neuroscientist. “I am most worried about the increase in distractibility,
the national attention deficit we all suffer from, and the consequences that arise from
this. This, to me, underscores the urgency of training
our mind with meditation so we don’t have to check our phones 80 times a day.” Okay, so those are the change your brain tactics. Now let’s take a look at the change your behavior
tactics. Firstly, turn off notifications. As shown earlier in the video, there is a
cost of all these notifications, so you should think carefully about the notifications on
your smartphone, as well as the email alerts that you get from your desktop. Rearrange your home screen. So your home screen is the first thing that
you see when you unlock your phone. Therefore, thinking carefully about what apps
should get easy access and your attention. Remove colors. So there’s no study on this specifically,
but anecdotally, a lot of people said that it works. And color, in general, is known to elicit
attentional recruitment. Block certain websites. So apps like RescueTime or ColdTurkey can
help you avoid from getting sucked in, if you do get distracted. Put the phone in the other room, not the bedroom. So something as simple as this resulted in
increased wellbeing in it’s study, where they forced people to have their phone in another
room, and not their bedroom. Avoid checking phone first thing in the morning. So, giving yourself a small window in the
morning before you jump onto your smartphone or computer will help you start the day right. Consider digital detox. So, taking some time out of technology will
help you re-examine your relationship with it. Track your usage. So, apps like Digital Wellbeing on Android,
or Screen Time on iOS, now come pre-installed. Commit to deep work. So deep work is when you focus a hundred percent
on a task, which is especially important in today’s society, if you’re in a work or study
situation. Use airplane mode or a dumb phone. So this is similar to reducing notifications,
but this way you completely disconnect for small periods of time when needed. Designate specific time for email. So remember that email checking results in
increased stress, so instead of replying continuously throughout the day, schedule email sessions,
which, with batching, will actually make you more productive as well. Now if you’ve enjoyed this video, then you
are obviously someone who is very analytical and goal oriented. And so, as an analytical and goal oriented
person, you can subscribe to this channel for more data-driven life advice. Be sure to click on the bell icon after clicking
the subscribe button, because that way you will get notified as soon as there is a new
video. Once you’ve done that, if you want another
trick up your sleeve to combat digital distraction, then you should watch the Surprising Sleep
Statistics video, where you will learn how sleep impacts your willpower, and many other
fun facts. There’s also the Reading Habit video, as when
you defeat digital distraction, you’ll have all this extra time on your hand. So why not nourish it with books? That’s all for today. Keep fighting the good fight, and see you
next time.


One thought on “FIGHT DIGITAL DISTRACTION + INFORMATION OVERLOAD (achieve digital well-being)”

  • Great video, ty for talking about this.

    As a Gen Z kid it's crazy to have grown up in the Information Age, addicted to my phone, now starting to find all of it repulsive. If anyone is interested in more I found "Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cat Newport" and "How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell" to be really great. Jenny even talks about the same thing mentioned in this video; how these tech companies design these apps to be addictive, down to the colors they choose for certain things.

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