• Mark Ghibril

Be Aware of your "Focus Thinking Deficit"!


I have been following the developments and updates from the CES this year (unfortunately I couldn't go) and as you might have heard, Alexa from Amazon has won the show. It is the new "hit" ecosystem that a lot of new startups are using for their products.

One product impressed me was the free App "Notion" and the integration of Alexa to it. Notion syncs with your inbox, then uses artificial intelligence (more on this topic in future blog) to go through your emails, makes it easier to find the info you actually need as well as prioritise it. What Alexa brings to the table is the possibility for it to tell you the most important bits of the email, summarising a long winded email into one or two sentence. AWESOME!

This got me re-think of a quote I admired:

"Attention is the new most valuable currency, its so scarce as we are living in the age of distraction".

In recent years, you have probably heared of "Infomania", "Digital Junkies", "FOMO", all relating to the either desire of accumulating and be on-top of all information or the fear of missing out on any information on certain topics, friend and families news or even anything.

"Information Overload" or "Information Fatigue" have been coined by consumer psychologists to reflect the situation of being overwhelmed with data and information, leaving you confused and/or unable to make a decision.

Psychologists all agree and confirm that it is not, in fact, possible to process more than a certain amount of information in a day. In reality, people who want to overindulge in information, they actually are not getting more information or contributing to their general knowledge but on the contrary they are less productive and increasing their stress factors.

For example, in a research project at the University of California, they tested employees with their patterns in using email and its impact on their productivity and stress. They have identified that people who check email based on their own planned self-interruptions report higher productivity than those who rely on notifications however they couldn't rule out any pattern can reduce stress that is caused by overload of emails. According to a information overload research group, knowledge workers waste quarter of their time dealing with huge data that is doesn't contribute to their productivity or output.

In another example, 80% digital consumers were completely paralysed and stressed and couldn't make decisions on their car insurance due to the vast amount of products, the options each product offers and how all of that fulfils their basic needs for a car insurance.

Neuroscientists agree that information processing are making us tired and have a harder time processing, and the fact is "multi-tasking" is a myth, for both men and women.

This is not a new phenomena as information in other forms have been abundant since printing started but accessibility to such information before was more restricted and harder to get, compared to now where in seconds you can get to almost all information about your subject. However, in my point of view this is the amazing social and personal value we have in data and information democratisation, and I think it is great to have transparency and availability of such data to allow us to be more informed and able to make decisions on well sounded data. (Check my previous blog on big data analytics)

Therefore, I believe what the digital consumers are experiencing is what I would like to call "Focus Thinking Deficit":

The failing ability to concentrate, filter and prioritise the information for their benefits, productivity and ability to think and make decisions.

Digital consumers (are as per my definition in my previous blog) are interacting with digital products on a continuous basis across various media and channels to fulfil their needs. This automatically makes their relationship clear with information: They are information seeker, consumer, creator and sharer.

According to recent research, even though any digital consumer bas every intention of doing monochromic work "single-tasking", their workplace and life pressures demand them to respond and get interrupted, causing them to sometimes make the wrong decisions or decisions that they are not convinced with.

However, even though I can't change your work, boss or personal environment, I will provide with some suggestions to try to minimise the "Focus Thinking Deficit" (as we will never be able to eliminate it in everything we do) as a digital consumer as well as an enterprise serving digital consumers:

As a digital consumer, you can perform

1- Single-Task Sprinting: Work on one task at a time and focus on it for 30 minutes followed by a break. This will give you the concentration you need, the break for refuelling and magically can increase your productivity hugely.

2- Self-Filter Prioritisation: Research shows the most distractions are self-inflicted or self-allowed. Therefore, you should start your day by prioritising your top three goals of the day (or the 3 things that if you complete that day, you feel happy) and self-filter what you allow to come through your digital or physical channels. Suggest either put a digital or physical signs that make it clear you are focused on a task and no interruptions (e.g. Status on your messaging or social platform, on your desk). There are even apps that can help in snoozing any other application other than the one you are using.

3- Take a Brain Break: Either as meditation, mindfulness or even simple break from your digital task such as simple walk or day dreaming can help your brain and return focus to your current task.

As an enterprise, you can perform

1- Product Simplification: Simplify your product information, options and combinations (if applicable) to minimise the amount of data consumption the digital consumer needs to do before they either purchase or use your product. You should simply answer answer the 4W&H (What, When, Who, Why & How) for your product to simply the digital consumer's decision.

2- Navigation Minimisation: The journey of the digital consumer through your digital and physical touch points should be minimal from a time, effort and interaction. In addition, if you have multiple options of your product, a simple comparison capability is key to allow the digital consumer to be able to make a decision.

3- Trust Establishment: In a sharing, collaborative and transparent economy, you have to make available the possibilities for digital consumers to provide transparent feedback, create their own communities and rate your products, which indirectly makes them able to trust in your brand, product and of course YOU!

In the next 100 days, as a digital consumer, single task, self-filter and take breaks! As an enterprise, review your products and consumer journeys and why not ask a set of your digital consumers on where they experience decision complexity, navigation effort and loss of trust and choose the product accordingly that you want to trial these 3 steps.

#change #Information #fatigue #Overload #Psychology

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