In a world that’s so fixated on things like Facebook and Twitter, where do we find our focus? Microsoft has done a study showing how technology coupled with these services has begun to degrade our attention span and cause us to lose focus on our lives (that last bit is just a little bit of interpretation by yours truly).
I keep trying to think of ways in which I can change my own approach to things, to find my way out of the technological maze I think so many of us get lost in.
What’s the next tweet? Who said what? What’s happening on Facebook? Did somebody text me? Was that my email? Oh, Tumblr!
For all of us, or at least many of us, this all translates into “Squirrel!” and drags our attention away from the task at hand. I am guilty of this to a degree that disturbs me as I have already checked Facebook, posted to Facebook, looked at email, read an article, and checked Facebook again in just this small amount of writing space.
I feel the strong desire disconnect from technology for an extended period of time, but that is next to impossible when I work in the tech industry. How do I disconnect when it’s staring me in the face every day for hours at a time?
Even if you’re not working in technology, it’s quite likely that you spend much of your day sitting at a computer terminal doing computery things like spreadsheets, word processing documents, CAD, or something else.
Even if your company has blocked access to social media, it’s likely that you found a way around the block and can still access Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and all the others. Maybe it’s using a browser like TOR that will bypass your firewalls and allow you to surf the web anonymously, or maybe it’s using your phone with the wireless turned off so you can access all the social media sites out there in the world. Chances are many of you have spent more time trying to find some way around the blocks than you have on your own work.
The truth is that it’s not up to your company to control your behaviors, it’s up to you. It’s up to me. We have to find our own ways to disconnect from the technological timesuck and again find ways to make the technology work for us instead of being a slave to it.
How that happens, I cannot tell you. What works for one person may not work for another person. I can provide some ideas, which I need to try and follow myself, so I make no claims as to how well these may or may not work for you as an individual.
Turn off your phones and tablets and laptops at night and spend the last hour before bed working on a crossword puzzle, reading a book (not on a tablet, but an e-ink based ereader is okay), working on a puzzle, writing paper with a pen (in a journal, poetry, the next great American Novel, whatever). Do something that doesn’t involve passive intake and makes your brain work. Play chess with your partner or kids or a neighbor, take a walk and leave the phone at home.
If any of these work for you, leave a comment about it. I’d love to hear your experiences in attempting to get past this technological prison we have built for ourselves.