英语学习 2014-12-17 15:48





Get Flash Player

By Michael Harris

陈思纯 选 刘宇佳 注

Recently a series of reports appeared online in the United States and the United Kingdom lamenting1 the “lazy French.” A new labor law in France had apparently banned2 organizations from e-mailing their employees after 6 p.m. In fact, it turned out to be more a case of “lazy journalists” than “lazy French”: as The Economist explained, the “law” was not a law at all but a labor agreement aimed at improving health among a specific group of professionals, and there wasn’t even a hard curfew for digital communication.3

Like all myths, however, this one revealed a set of abiding values subscribed to by the folk who perpetuated it.4 Brits and Americans have long suspected that the French (and others) are goofing off while they—the good corporate soldiers—continue to toil away.5 They’re proud about it too. A Gallup poll6, released in May, found that most U.S. workers see their constant connection with office mates as a positive. In the age of the smartphone, there’s no such thing as “downtime,” and we profess to be happier—and more productive—for it.7

Are we, though after reviewing thousands of books, articles and papers on the topic and interviewing dozens of experts in fields from neurobiology and psychology to education and literature,8 I don’t think so. When we accept this new and permanent ambient workload—checking business news in bed or responding to coworkers’ emails during breakfast—we may believe that we are dedicated, tireless workers.9 But, actually, we’re mostly just getting the small, easy things done. Being busy does not equate to being effective.

And let’s not forget about ambient play, which often distracts10 us from accomplishing our most important tasks. Facebook and Twitter report that their sites are most active during office hours. After all, the employee who’s required to respond to her boss on Sunday morning will think nothing of11 responding to friends on Wednesday afternoon. And research shows that these digital derailments are costly: it’s not only the minutes lost responding to a tweet but also the time and energy required to“reenter” the original task.12 As Douglas Gentile, a professor at Iowa State University who studies the effects of media on attention spans13, explains, “Everyone who thinks they’re good at multitasking is wrong. We’re actually multiswitching [and] giving ourselves extra work.”

Each shift of focus sets our brain back and creates a cumulative attention debt, resulting in a harried workforce incapable of producing sustained burst of creative energy.14 Constant connection means that we’re“always at work”, yes, but also that we’re “never at work”—fully.

People and organizations looking for brave new ideas or significant critical thinking need to recognize that disconnection is therefore sometimes preferable to connection. You don’t ask a jogger who just ran six miles to compete in a sprint, so why would you ask an executive?who’s been answering a pinging phone all morning to deliver top-drawer content at his next meeting?15

Some parts of the workforce do rely on constant real-time communication16. But others should demand and be given proper breaks from the digital maelstrom17. Batch-processing18 email is one easy solution. Do it a few times a day and reserve the rest of your time for real work. Most colleagues and clients will survive without a response for three hours, and if it’s truly urgent19, they can pick up the phone.

The great tech historian Melvin Kranzberg said, “technology is neither good nor bad, nor is it neutral.” That statement should become a real tenet20 of the information age. I don’t advocate abstinence or blanket rules like that fictional post-6 p.m. email ban.21 However, I do think our cult22 of connectivity has gone too far. We can’t keep falling prey to ambient work or play. Instead, we must actively decide on our level of tech engagement at different times to maximize productivity, success, and happiness.


1. lament: 叹息。

2. ban: 禁止。

3. curfew: 宵禁;digital: 数字的。

4. abiding value: 不变的价值观;subscribe: 认可;perpetuate: 使不朽,保持。

5. 英国人和美国人一直都觉得法国人(及其他人)整日都在游手好闲;而他们——优秀的企业劳模——却一直在勤勤恳恳地工作。suspect: 怀疑;?goof off: 游手好闲,混日子;?toil away: 长期劳累。

6. Gallup poll: 盖洛普民意调查,美国民意调查机构。因1935年由G.盖洛普创办该所而得名。民意测验每年举行20~25次,总统大选年略多。调查内容包括政治、经济、社会等。

7. 在智能手机的时代中,不存在所谓的“停工期”。我们自称更加快乐,更有工作成效。downtime: 停工期;profess: 自称,公开表示。

8. review: 浏览,查看;neurobiology: 神经生物学。

9. 我们接受了这种新的工作模式,工作随时随地,源源不断——在床上查看行业新闻或是早餐时回复同事邮件——我们也许会觉得,自己十分敬业,是不知疲倦的员工。permanent: 永久的;ambient: 周围的;dedicated: 有奉献精神的。

10. distract: 使分心。

11. think nothing of: 把……视为平常。

12. 研究表明,这些“数字脱轨”的成本很高:一方面,回复推特要花费时间;另一方面,重新投入到之前的工作中也需要时间和精力。derailment: 脱轨;tweet: 推特。

13. attention span: (心理) 意力广度,注意力的持续时间。

14. 注意力的每次转换使大脑回归原点,并产生累积的注意力负债,因而,人们变得更加忙碌,无法产生出持续的创造精力。cumulative: 累积的;harried workforce: 忙碌的工作。

15. 你不会让一位刚慢跑6英里的人去参加冲刺比赛,所以,又为什么要去让一位整个早晨都在忙碌接听电话的负责人,在接下来的会议里,做出重要发言呢?jogger: 慢跑者;sprint: 冲刺;top-drawer: 最重要的。

16. real-time communication: 实时通信。

17. maelstrom: 漩涡。

18. batch-processing: 批量处理的。

19. urgent: 紧急的。

20. tenet: 原则。

21. 我本人并不提倡节制或者类似下午六点以后就不允许进行邮件往来等一概而论的规则。 abstinence: 节制;blanket: 一概而论的;fictional: 虚构的。

22. cult: 狂热崇拜。

(来源:英语学习杂志 编辑:祝兴媛)



















关于我们 | 联系方式 | 招聘信息

Copyright by chinadaily.com.cn. All rights reserved. None of this material may be used for any commercial or public use. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. 版权声明:本网站所刊登的中国日报网英语点津内容,版权属中国日报网所有,未经协议授权,禁止下载使用。 欢迎愿意与本网站合作的单位或个人与我们联系。



Email: languagetips@chinadaily.com.cn