College administrators and instructors are not immune from distracted decision-making, due to the unlimited access they have to their smartphones while on the job. Statistics gathered for Udemy report that 56% of workers say they are distracted by social media. Productivity expert, Dr. Geraldine Markel reports that when workers are distracted or interrupted, they lose their focus. Efforts to be productive are thwarted, and they lose their place when reading, writing or calculating; waste time getting back on track; and feel frustrated and irritated when they do not complete tasks with accuracy or completeness.
Multitasking with smartphones and social media represents a risk to good decision-making for college administrators as well as the college instructors who report to them. What can college administrators do to mitigate distractions in their daily decision-making? So we haven’t asked our other questions from our project assignment sheet. Do we want to do it here? Markel offers these tips from her productivity app 8 Demons, which aims to help people work more efficiently and without distraction.
Awareness and professional development
Challenge workers to identify the ways in which technology and social media drain their time and energy. Collect information on the number of hours spent on technology, both at work and at home. Figure the cost of technology-related distraction or social media in terms of time, money, and stress.
Create a simple plan and a schedule that could include specific times to respond to emails, return phone messages, utilize technology for work, and implement an “electronic lockdown” in which workers stop using technology for a 15-minute period to think, analyze, and create.
Communication and collaboration
Establish a work culture that encourages distraction-free work; provide a distraction-free location in which workers can easily focus and be protected from interruptions and help workers communicate expectations and guidelines to workers and family members, regarding the frequency with which they will be checking their devices. Establish a method for communicating high-priority action items. We have to accept that technology and its immense potential for distraction is not going away. Banning technology within the confines of educational institutions is also impractical and unsustainable. Furthermore, it is likely that the issue of distraction will become more pronounced over the next several years. However, there is hope for allowing education to drive technology if we can properly harness and appropriately direct its use appropriately, perhaps by understanding more about how human brains work and manage multiple systems, and by challenging and empowering students to be active learners.
Administrators can utilize similar awareness tools of empowerment and provide professional development to their staff, to mitigate distracted decision-making at work. Simply laying blame at the feet of our electronic pieces is not an option.