A good friend of mine passed on a link to this story in the New York Times this week “Hooked on Gadgets, and Paying a Mental Price“. It is a very insightful and somewhat scary piece on how juggling e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, phone calls, and generally being a techie can change the way we think and behave. Our ability to focus is being challenged by this ever increasing flow of information that is being poured on us from all directions.
I have to admit that in many ways I do fall into the tendency of being addicted to gadgets. The fact that I am practically counting down the hours until I can get my hands on the new iPhone G4 is testament to my level of addiction. That said, I have taken very conscious steps in the past couple of months to find a balance and schedule in OFF-time from my various gadgets every day. Gone are the days when I would sit in a meeting or presentation and check my email, Twitter/Facebook accounts regularly on my iPhone while also trying to focus on what was being said. I used to think that I could juggle it all, that I was a master multi-tasker, but now if I’m truly honest, I realize that I wasn’t giving my full focus to any of these tasks and that really, in many ways, I was only adding to my stress levels and ADD tendencies (incidentally, I do believe that all of us suffer from some degree of ADD nowadays). One other thing that I make a point of doing now whenever I have a particular work task to do, is log out of email, Facebook, Skype, Twitter for a couple of others to get the task completed. Sometimes I also switch off my phone.
Learning to be more mindful and present in the moment is something that we all need to work on if we are going to survive this ever increasing digital information revolution. I am currently reading this great book that I wish to recommend: “The Mindfulness Solution: Everyday Practices for Everyday Problems” by Dr. Ronald Siegel. What I love about this book, is that Dr. Siegel has done a superb job blending in science along with psychotherapy and spiritual tradition into a very easy-to-read format with lots of examples and helpful exercises.