The Fragmented Mind of a Web Developer/Designer
This topic actually came about one day when I was going for a walk following a crazy workday. I could just feel my mind racing, and my brain just wouldn’t shut off. The workday was over, and I just couldn’t stop thinking about work. In the following article I am going to try and break down the mind of myself, and in turn those who spend their time working on the internet. I hope some of you out there can relate to this “fragmented mindset”.
Now some of you might be thinking that working on the web must be easy. We just sit in our chair all day, maybe even in our pjs, and get to have fun on the web. Some of this is true, but our work isn’t the physical nature, but rather 100% mental. All jobs have some kind of mental component, but in my opinion there is few jobs more taxing on the human mind than working on the web.
Here are a couple of reasons:
- Short Attention Span – When I was in university we had to read this great book on website usability titled “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug. He makes numerous great points in his book about how people use the web. Did you know that we don’t read pages? We actually scan them. If a page takes more than 2-3 seconds we will go back and try another one. We have no patience.
- Too much multitasking – Our job pretty much requires us to multitask, but you have to be careful that you don’t do it too much. For example, at any 10 minute interval of my job I might: check my gazillion feeds, quickly scan a few interesting ones, login to twitter, check my email, message a few guys I work with, do 1-2 small things on 3 different projects, check each change in 5 different browsers, and then start over. Is it any wonder we don’t lose our minds? We repeat this over many times a day. How many times do you check your email in a day? Go to social network sites? How many projects do you have on the go at once?
- We consume too much data – with the web our brain in constantly in overload mode. We have more data at our fingertips than we could even imagine. The following is a great infographic on how the average user spends its time on the internet. As developer/designers I can say a lot of those numbers would be quite a bit higher.According to that graphic we visit 2600 pages a month, and log on 57 times to our computer. I know my stats would probably be higher than that.
- Always Connected – does our brain ever get a break? These days we have computers, tablets, smartphones, tvs, etc. Our brain is constantly in this 100mph state that consumes us. One video I watched online asked: “What is your wake-up to screen time?” My honest answer would probably be 5-10 mins. What about yours?
The following are some best practices for fighting this unproductive mindset:
- Take frequent breaks – take walks, or get up and get a glass of water.
- Check email once or twice an hour – what percentage of your emails need to be viewed instantly? Checking your email every five minutes hurts your focus.
- Limit social network time – try visiting social networks a max of 3 times a day. You get addicted to the instant information otherwise.
- Check feeds only once in the morning – same reasons as above. You don’t need everything instantly.
I must make a bit of a confession here. I fail at all four of these things daily. I know I should be doing them, but they just don’t happen. This is because we either lose track of time, let our deadlines get the best of us, or we just have too much fun learning.
How do you cope with the “fragmented mindset”? I want to hear your thoughts in the comments.