Indistractable, Chapter 26

Chapter 26, Distraction Is a Sign of Dysfunction

In companies that have a poor company culture, often workers are given unreasonable tasks, or unreasonable timelines, or both. As pressure mounts, the workers experience depression as they try to meet demands, often by working well past their scheduled time, responding to emails during off work hours when they are trying to have dinner with their families or sleep.

If there are a multitude of demands made from different managers, often each manager assumes their requests are the most pressing for the employee. This is often a complain of college students (or at least, when I was in college) that it seemed as if professors required large projects to be done in the same week. You can power through (if it's true that you couldn't get any work done earlier) as a 20 year old, but by 40, you can't burn the midnight oil like you used to.

As a person in the Infrastructure group, I don't quite get the luxury for turning my phone off and having focused time. While the DBA I work with does work later than I do and has been doing the job much longer, I'm still the SME for some processes and do get requests for information well past the time I leave work, and on the weekends. It just comes with the territory. It isn't a sign of company dysfunction, the Infrastructure group needs to be available in times of emergency.

However, people using tech to feel in control - responding to an email that isn't important but just showed up in your inbox is much easier to do than work on a task or on a deadline that seems insurmountable. You're still busy, you're still working, but you're not focused on the right things. If company culture was better, you'd feel in control of your tasks and find it easier to ignore email if you've focused at the task at hand.

Chapter Summary:

  • Jobs where employees encounter high expectations and low control have been shown to lead to symptoms of depression.
  • Depression-like symptoms are painful. When people feel bad, they use distractions to avoid their pain and gain a sense of control.
  • Tech overuse is a symptom of a dysfunctional company culture.
  • More tech use makes the problems worse, perpetuating a "cycle of responsiveness."

Coronavirus update:

It's bad. US will get much worse than it is, and is already under-testing cases. Think I'll stop doing the coronavirus updates every day.


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