I saw this article somewhere on the Internet — I think it was via Twitter, but I don’t remember now because it was one of a dozen tabs open on my browser and I wasn’t really paying attention and…
Oops. I’m out of coffee. Be right back.
Okay. Where was I?
Oh yeah. This article I found online — Have we forgotten how to concentrate? — talks about how driven to distraction we are by our modern tech-fueled, info-glutted lives.
Here’s some information from the article about how much information we deal with, and how it distracts us so terribly.
Office workers are interrupted every three minutes, so at best we have a three-minute attention span, and 62% of us are addicted to email. Meanwhile, a recent study at the University of California calculated that we are bombarded with 34 gigabytes of information a day, including roughly 100,000 words (a figure that has more than doubled in the past 30 years). What’s more, the trend-spotting agency The Future Laboratory talks of “filter failure”, “information anxiety” (fretting about awaited emails) and “stuffocation” (the state of being overwhelmed by years of consumption). No wonder we self-diagnose attention-deficit disorder.
So, what can we do about this modern malady? The article quotes Timothy Ferriss, author of The Four-Hour Work Week, who offers these ideas for going on a “low-information diet”:
Practice the five-more rule Force yourself to read for five more minutes, write for five more minutes or learn five more things before getting distracted.
Exercise Mental activities such as sudoku and memory games promote agility. Try meditation, t’ai chi and yoga.
Rest Relax constructively: sports, games and hobbies are good; television is not. Twenty-minute naps refresh the brain.
Be cyber-savvy Only check your emails once an hour and turn off any alerts.
Go rustic Urban settings put you on high alert. If you can’t take a country walk, take lunch in the park.
Know yourself Find your chronotype (are you an owl or a lark?), so you can work when you’re most alert.
Prepare Envisage your desired outcome (as golfers do); keep a notepad to hand to record other thoughts and focus on the task.
Don’t try harder, try differently To beat a mental block, pique your interest — tweak your imagination, find your hook.
Did you get that? Are you still reading this? Pay attention. Sheesh.