Prüfer’s column: Only 70 seconds left

The author

Tillmann Prüfer is a member of the editor-in-chief of “Zeit-Magazin”.

I learned that normal office workers can only stay on one thing for 70 seconds. When they’re busy with a project on their screen, they don’t spend hours working on it, as they think they do, but just a little more than a lousy minute.

They can’t make it any longer before they turn to their e-mails, for example, and see if someone hasn’t written to them or – in a number of offices, the mask requirement in the corridors has only recently been abolished, you have to imagine that.

For months now, it has been completely normal again to sit next to someone on an airplane without a mask, and the obligation to wear a mask on long-distance flights has recently been lifted. But the most dangerous thing that can obviously happen to you still seems to be your own college, which comes towards you in the corridor, but you kind of suspected that, didn’t you?

Elon Musk is currently auctioning off all kinds of works of art and design objects from Twitter’s headquarters. Including a statue of the blue Twitter bird, which early on sold for around $16,000. Is this the beginning of the end in a tech company? When the art is taken off the wall? Then what do you do in a normal office in Germany where the only thing on the wall is the first aid kit?

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The fact that the attention span is so short is explained by scientists with the many channels through which information now reaches us. You have e-mail and SMS, WhatsApp, Telegram and of course Slack at the start. You can check Instagram and LinkedIn for that, and then there are all sorts of websites that need regular attention.

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In the past, there would certainly have been more reason to wear a mask in the office. Before Corona, in the days of good old attendance discipline, it was actually a matter of course to come to the office. Even if you were somehow ill. It was seen as proof of particular harshness against oneself.

Of course, about four other colleagues were infected, who then also had the opportunity to prove their particular toughness against themselves. Back then you would have urgently needed a face mask, but today? Today everyone is in the home office.

Incidentally, the short attention span of people is related to the fact that the brain always recognizes new information as particularly valuable and therefore automatically turns to it. Even if it interrupts something that is actually much more important. A column, for example. As a result, people feel like they’ve done a thousand things all day, been stressed, and still haven’t gotten anything done.

More: We’re just one wallpaper away from the end of interior design

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