Once upon a time when I was a diligent university student, I thought I was a great multitasker. I would spend roughly five hours every weekday in the library, foremost immersing myself with what I considered productive studying and researching. To keep on top of my social life in the meantime — in case I would miss out on something fun, or, actually, in case someone would be having fun without me — I would regularly reach out to my phone and briskly go through all the 12 apps I had installed on, not realizing how much time I would waste in doing so. After coming to the conclusion that my love for tech goes beyond the joy of using it, I read more into it and discerned that this little habit of mine did not result in efficiency or productiveness; in fact, there is an acronym for this condition. It’s called fear of missing out, also known as FoMO, which is a chronic psychological state that perpetuates anxiety as we keep contemplating how to spend our time and energy more efficiently. With our increased reliance on modern technology and instant access to an ever-expanding network of connections, we think we can alleviate our fear of being out of the loop by switching apps on and off like a hamster stuck in an unremitting digital wheel. And the most interesting part? I figured out I wasn’t the only one.
This phenomena has become as prevalent and widespread as Starbucks franchise stores, and nearly three quarters of millennials across the world have reported to have experienced this at some point in their lives. In my case, sinking deeper into an abyss of trepidation, I set out on a quest to find a way out of my FoMO before it would be too late; to my surprise, most of the advice I found online virtually instructed me to step into a time-machine and rewind half a century back by terminating all of my online profiles, erasing my apps, turning off my emails, and even telling my boss that I would be ‘going offline for a while.’ With a recent Pew Research Center poll indicating that almost two-thirds of Americans are smartphone owners to whom these devices offer unparalleled access to the online world of business and leisure, telling people to switch off is the least helpful of recommendations.
Researchers from Stanford have studied the brain functioning of people who frequently juggle several digital communication streams at once and have concluded that utilizing various streams of electronic information hinders the brain’s cognitive abilities and also decreases the human attention span, which is why today’s high-tech users have a shorter attention span than that of a goldfish (it hurts, we know, but it’s the truth; young adults cannot concentrate on one task for more than approximately 8 seconds). Even though technology provides an opportune path to knowledge and awareness without time or space restrictions, poor digital habits have started to take their toll on our mental health. Particularly for young adults who believe they can vacillate between various strings of information, professor Adam Gazzaley from the University of California explains that, in fact, the human brain cannot multitask, unless it is at the cost of lower productivity. But it doesn’t need to be this way.
In an age of bold new apps and pervasive computing, it is crucial to remember that for every problem caused by technology, there is a solution fueled by technology. Today you might have learned that your brain cannot multitask and that the 775,000 apps in the App Store overwhelm you more often than not — but do not fear, there is a small, unique variety of apps that assuage your life (and your brain) by bringing your online communications under one roof so that you don’t need to spend too much of your precious time and energy trying to keep track of it all. Though apps like Bitrix24, HipChat, and eXo Platform are worth endorsing, they do not exactly solve this problem that has been looming like a dark cloud above us. On a positive note, a newly emerged app, Nested, is an aptly named medium that was launched by a group of tech-conscious pundits that wanted to put an end to the near-obsessive efforts to keep up with all the electronic information pointed at us and to kick-start a brand new era of consistent and refined communication between individuals and teams — for business and everything in-between.
Brian Chen wrote for the New York Times that, to arrange his documents, he would experiment with “neurotic tagging systems, tedious backup processes and album management,” but that can be the least of his concerns now. As a start-up, Nested is leveraging technology to integrate our interactions and to structure them neatly into ‘Places’ and ‘Sub-places’ according to their respective contents and contexts. For what was once a messy desktop of forgotten files, or an account of piled emails scattered across dozens of disorderly folders, Nested provides a series of features that allows you to launch and manage your projects and conversations from anywhere, at anytime, to whomever you authorize. You can also create your own exclusively private place where you can back-up whatever you wish. Literally.
So, next time you find yourself brainstorming with a colleague on Facebook, while simultaneously waiting to receive a complementing document via Dropbox, for a shared file you are working on Google Docs that you later plan to send to your supervisor through email, just remember that life doesn’t need to be thiscomplicated. You can uphold conversations, multitask, multi-manage and store basically your entire virtual life on Nested, efficiently, to enhance your productivity without wasting time. And remember, time is the most valuable thing a person can waste.
This article is part of Nested’s Go-Getter series on how to increase your productivity and boost your community’s efficiency by adapting to undeviatingly functional and ground-breaking new communication methods.