“How do you get time to think?” A good friend of mine asked me this question a few nights ago after I rattled off some of my thoughts on the use of technology, social media and short attention spans. His question made me revisit Aldous Huxley’s genius 1930’s creation where Huxley predicted the future. He wrote about reading and thinking becoming alien concepts in the future. That future is now the present.
Constantly disturbed by our smartphones, we have eroded our abilities to focus deeply and pay attention. Hard problems take time and patience to solve and we cannot be reflective analytic problem solvers in this culture of distraction. We are so attached to our screens that we fail to observe the world around us. A flourishing society that can come together and solve the most important problems of the world is reliant on deep work, empathy and human connections. These are slowly degrading and we must make an effort to revive it.
I’m not saying that I am the deepest thinker or have great self-control when it comes to the use of technology. However, I am making a conscious effort to improve on these fronts. In that respect, here are some small actions that help me think more and focus better:
- Create habits and routines so you don’t have to exert too much mental power into planning your day and your mind can be free to wander
- Work in chunks and blocks of time and do not multi-task
- Do not check your phone while working. Better still, keep it away from you
- Reduce time on social media
- Actively carve out time to think. Go on walks
- Meditate (still working on this one)
- Be observant
The hope is that we can be clear thinkers in this world full of noise.
Recommended book: Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
Recommended blog post: Mental Models and Thinking Better by Shane Parrish
If you have any suggestions to share or want to talk about this, I would love to hear your thoughts / critiques – so please drop me a note.