My very first post is part of my insomnia and obsession for how the things should be in the future, and also a way to teach myself how to live the present. It’s 4 am here and reading the title you could actually say: embrace experiences enjoying but for me is different… I enjoy too much everything I do but embracing just very few things. Since I was a boy things were like that…starting something so intensely and giving up moments later for lack of interest. Guitar, singing, swimming, playing football, reading, acting, studying…loving.
People everywhere seem to be experiencing an epidemic of overwhelm at work. I believe it’s a function of two things. Firstly it’s the amount of information we now process, which our brain may not be used to. I read somewhere that The New York Times on Sunday contains more information than the average 18th century French Nobleman learned in his lifetime (now, if only I could remember where I read that…)
Secondly, we have all these new technologies which are very good at distracting us, which our human habits have not caught up to. The challenge is that we have not realized the true cost of distractions: they use up what is actually a limited supply of attention each day, and make us far less effective if we need to do deeper thinking work. For example,a University of London study found that being always connected impacts your IQ equivalent to losing a night’s sleep or taking up marijuana. Attention is a limited resource!
Every time you focus your attention you use a measurable amount of glucose and other metablic resources. Studies show that each task you do tends to make you less effective at the next task, and this is especially true for high-energy tasks like self control or decision making. So distractions really take their toll.
So how can we address this?
The answer is quite simple. Once you understand how much energy is involved in high-level thinking like planning and creating, you might be more vigilant about allowing distractions to steal your attention. One of the most effective distraction-management techniques is switch off all communication devices during any thinking work. Your brain prefers to focus on things right in front of you. It’s less effort. If you are trying to focus on a subtle mental thread, allowing yourself to be distracted is like stopping pain and enjoying a mild pleasure: it’s too hard to resist! Blocking out external distractions altogether, especially if you get a lot of them, seems to be one of the best strategies for improving mental performance. There is no ‘trick’ to this: you simply must switch things off, or you wont focus.
So part of the solution to managing distractions is quite easy in theory, it just takes some courage. It’s also not negotiable: there’s no way not to be distracted by distractions, it’s built into the brain in the way we pay attention to novelty.
If you are like me and also feel tired of being like that you can share your thoughts here, slightly, anonymously, occasionally but at least intensely!