This Is Why More Screens May Not Be the Solution for Distraction

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Whether you’re on your phone, your tablet, or a desktop or laptop computer, distraction happens to everyone. You have too many open tabs to keep track of, constant email alerts demanding your attention, long documents open that need reading. There’s just too much going on to stay focused and get anything done. The solution, according to Wired’s Clive Thompson? Put some of those tasks on another screen.

Thompson cites the example of switching between an iPad for reading and a laptop for communicating, and explains: “Now that people have several devices at work—a laptop, a phone, a tablet—they’re finding their way to a similar trick, where they use each piece of hardware for a different purpose. Consider it a new way to manage all the digital demands on our attention: Instead of putting different tasks in different windows, people are starting to put them on different devices.”

As devices become less expensive and more accessible, people can own more devices, which Thompson says they can use to boost their productivity. In the same way that people used to switch between tasks on paper, putting down one file to pick up another, they can do the same on, say, a tablet and a computer by further separating the tasks they need to complete in a work day, shifting their attention between devices instead of between programs or tabs.

“At the heart of this multiscreen life is a counterintuitive realization: that a profusion of devices can help focus one’s attention rather than fracture it. A pile of browser tabs on your laptop becomes mentally confusing; tasks get hidden and maybe forgotten. But when screens are physically separate, the problem evaporates.”

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