Digital distractions are affecting the workplace now more than ever before. In a recent survey from Udemy, it is found that 36-percent of Millennials and Gen Z workers who grew up with social media spend at least two hours looking at their phones for non-work purposes each day.
As a result of the distractions, the poll finds the employees “stressed, unmotivated and feeling bad about themselves, their jobs and their careers.” This is supported by previous Harvard Business Review research that shows simply having a smartphone nearby might damper work productivity.
Thankfully, a new study by Northwestern University affirms that short social media breaks could help creativity.
It agrees that while “leaky attention” can cost productivity, it can also help people “integrate ideas” and strengthen their creative thinking.
Therefore, giving in to the desire to peruse social media, and even watch videos, can improve creativity—but you will need to have more patience as these breaks have to be scheduled. This is known as “productive distraction,” and involves the planning of intervals for meditation, physical activity, or social media use.
As the breaks are planned ahead, there is more motivation to intensely focus on work while looking forward to the brief rest ahead. As Carsten Lund Pedersen, a researcher at Cophenhagen Business School, explains in MIT Sloan Management Review, productive distraction is seen as a way of “balancing curiosity and concentration.”