Remember when news channels didn't have a ticker at the bottom of the screen alerting you to breaking news? I do. It was before 9/11 and people were used to receiving information from news anchors, one. idea. at. a. time.
Fast-forward 14 years and a ticker at the bottom of the screen seems quiet. Quaint, even.
Work is no longer a matter of "getting things done" as much as it is an heroic effort to "fend things off." There is an unending stream of noise coming at you between media, social media, scheduling, emails, phones buzzing, texting, blogs and on and on. It's easy to forget you are supposed to be in control of your own life.
Simply put, you are overwhelmed with information - even if you don't think you are.
A recent study found that the average smart phone user checks their phone 1,500 times per week, an average of 214 times per day. Users switch tasks 221 times per day. We are so conditioned to this new overwhelming reality that we literally imagine that our phone is vibrating in our pockets when it isn't.
Some describe it as an addiction. Recent research explains it more as an obsession.
Obsessions are dangerous things and we need help. The trajectory of technology tells me that we are going to find that help in the form of better systems coupled with, of course, self control.
Today we are being served "best-in-class” software by companies that design capabilities for very targeted uses. Think: Facebook is social, LinkedIn is professional. Gone are the days of the all-in-one Suite of services, which are inherently clunky and complex. Unleesh is designed for “structured team management,” pretty specific, I know.
The reason this matters is because as we become used to this new norm we will begin turning apps, tools and functions on only when they are needed.
I’ve observed this among younger Millennials. They can handle a lot of information, but they are relatively unimpressed with another new app. So they simply focus on one thing at a time. They have actually reversed course and know when to say “no.” It’s why younger Millennials can’t stand email. It’s far too noisy.
To make the most of your time - to cut through the noise - I suggest the following 5 practices:
Pick your favorite 3 news sources, and only read those
Turn off email and social media for 6 hours a day
Take more than 2 pages of reading somewhere away from your desk
Use blank white paper to jot down ideas for 15 minutes at a time. Create space to think!
And my final suggestion is simple: Use and pay attention to only one device at a time. No television while you are listening to music on your phone and working on your laptop.
Sometimes you just have to press the off switch and thank yourself later.