In a world filled with millions of instances of hyper-stimulating digital content - thinking, learning and the development of intellectual assets suffer. In a recent article I authored titled It’s Time to Make Technology Disappear (http://www.futureofwork.com/article/details/its-time-for-technology-to-disappear), I shared that technology has become a hindrance to my thinking, a distraction to thoughtful, productive work. I love technology, but it has reached the point where it has overwhelmed my senses, and I doubt I am the only one.
Thoughtful thinking, and by that I mean thinking that utilizes analysis, comparisons, judgment, creativity, planning, forecasting and imagining requires dedicated time to ponder, formulate and connect ideas and thoughts. These activities require a mental focus void of interruptions.
I had the opportunity to manage teams of programmers for many years. You quickly learn that quality programming requires dedicated time absent from distraction. I read once that programmers, if interrupted, take 20 minutes to fully return to the level of mental concentration they had before interruption. This is one of many reasons I turn off nearly all sound and visual alerts on my laptop and mobile devices. It is hard enough focusing my own brain for long periods of time, let alone being bombarded by digital distractions.
In our personal multi-screen lives filled with alerts, notifications, reminders, news flashes, advertisements and 24x7 communications via smartphones and social media, it is easy to lose the storyline we each want for our own lives. Our personal storyline is our past, present and future. It is the story we want our lives to tell. Recognizing our past storyline, determining how we want to change, and then ensuring we are taking the necessary steps to live it, takes focused thinking and time – all things we quickly lose under the onslaught of digital glimpses and instances.
In our professional lives we often have specific and routine deliverables, plus the increasing request to help our employers innovate, create, invent and digitally transform. Our routine deliverables and tasks often benefit greatly from technology that improves productivity (and by the way can often be done by robots), but unless we can “make technology disappear” into the background, it inhibits our human ability to think thoughtfully about important future business and digital transformation issues. If we are to claim and protect our humanity amongst all of the digital distractions, we are going to need to figure out a way to control both ourselves and our technologies.