We are in an age of technology where our schedules are filled and there is no room to breathe. The only way to survive is to hunker down and get things done. Sadly, that seems to be the hardest thing to do: just doing it.
With the benefits and freedoms of tech, comes the heavy weight and distractions it brings. How do we resist the temptation of just letting our minds wonder in the empty space of the Internet? This is by far my hardest fight when it comes to procrastination and staying focused. Within a second, I could easily grab my phone and open Facebook, iFunny, and/or Instagram to let my mind sink into a timelessly fabricated space to only realize an hour has passed, making me scramble to start what I originally wanted already done. The sad part is I usually won’t even realize I have it open. I’ll just be staring only to suddenly awaken and realize what I’ve been doing.
Linda Stone and William Powers took part in the Aspen Ideas Festival and recorded their conversation titled Information Overload: Can We Still Be Productive In A World Full Of Content Updates? In this conversation, Linda opens up some simple questions and for people to raise their hands if they agree. Linda would start with positive questions such as “The way I use technology enhances my quality of life,” then end the question asking “The way I use technology compromises my quality of life.” Another set of questions Linda asks was “Technology sets me free” and “Technology enslaves me.” Throughout the questions, Linda, William, and the crowd giggle as all of their hands rose for each question. They talk about how the noise of the world is becoming more and more overwhelming and ideas how to overcome it. William adds a story soon after the questions showing just how distracting technology is. He was in line for lunch and a man was in front of him. The man’s wife came by and asked what he was doing, which he started to reply, but never finished because his phone came into his hands and distracted him. His wife replied in the same manner, opening her phone to walk off without ever hearing the answer. An important yet simple question ended without a conclusion. I can only hope I don’t let myself become that consumed with connectivity outside of my life.
While writing the above, I realized that I was on Facebook on a new tab not just once, or twice, but three separate times, and I don’t have a clue how long I was on there. It’s easy to become distracted and allowing that habit will infest you and become the husband in the story.
How do we end or lessen the affects our technology has on us? How do we relax the grip it has on our minds to complete simple tasks? Melissa Dahl of New York Magazine shows studies and shares her opinion on the phone distraction issue in her article, “Your Cell Phone Is Distracting You Even If You’re Trying To Ignore It.” Showing in studies that the simple sound of your phone, buzzing, or sight of it will distract you from your work and focus of being productive. Personally, I think it goes farther into the fact that you own one and have let it sunk into and brand your mind asking what’s going on and the need to see the blue light. Andrew Gush of Android Authority shares studies done by Baylor University that phone usage has similar effects to using drugs and alcohol. Dependence in users show they get frustrated and angry when their phone gets low on battery or can’t find it. While the user uses their device, it often releases dopamine improving their overall moods.
With all these reactions, it’s hard to remain phone and distracted free during times of work or study. If I personally want to work on something, I have a hard time remain distract free. It’s frustrating and I don’t constantly try to fight it, which makes it worse. Got to fight, got to fight.