New research from the Manchester Business School suggests that we are spending more time than ever being distracted by the 21st century need to be “always on”.  In May of this year facebook admitted the average time spent by a user is 50 minutes. Likewise in the work place, The CMI found in their Quality of life report this year that Managers in particular are almost unable to switch off, with 61% saying that mobile technology makes it hard to switch off from work, and 54% check their emails outside of work hours.

In fact, around 40% of us wake up and check our social media and emails before even getting out of bed, according to Professor Sir Cary Cooper of Manchester Business School, who has studied e-mail and workplace stress. Some companies are making bigger steps to curb this trend, with companies like Dalmier stopping emails on holiday completely with an auto delete system that has been praised by many. There are even entire companies set up to help us find out where our time disappears to: Robby Macdonell from Nashville Tennessee, founded tech start-up RescueTime after being compulsively driven to distraction, mostly through his many technology devices. More famously there are blocking sites such as keepmeout.com that can alert users to their habits such as visiting facebook too often, and can even block you visiting traditionally “addictive” sites such as the Daily Mail.

Computer Science applicants may want to think about how the smart technology of the future might help us deal with these distractions, Psychology applicants could research how technology affects stress and behaviour. Finally, Economics and Management applicants can think about the implications of distraction for managers and how this can affect business and productivity.

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