Because attention is snippet-driven these days, I worry about having written such a long post, hence this briefer version.
There is a reason why posts like “The Five Reasons You Should Go to Mars” are popular. Besides the catchy title, these bulleted lists are perfect info-bytes. So today, for those of you who will have 30 critical emails waiting if you read the long version, here the gist of the longer post:
- Set your cell phone down and step away. Go outside and lie on the ground or a hammock. Completely unplugged stare at the clouds. Try this for five minutes. This is Creative Daydreaming, which can be restorative and refreshing once you remember the skill.
- If a problem is festering in the back of your brain, go for a walk. Leave your headphones, cell phone (unless it’s a safety issue), and iPod behind. Listen to the birds, watch people, see the colors, feel the breeze and then let the problem take front and center. Perhaps you will have an ‘aha’ moment.
- When you are sitting with someone and talking, put the cell and walkman away, and concentrate on the person in front of you. Do this even if the other person does not return the courtesy. I’m not talking about when you are with a group of friends hanging out for an extended amount of time. But when you are in a conversation, be fully in that moment. Long ago I read that be fully in any moment is a form of meditation.
- Avoid Mind Wandering (or texting during classes and meetings). At your next meeting or in Chemistry class, put the cell phone, laptop, or tablet to the side. Look at the people when they speak, consider their words and connect what they are saying to what you know.
- If the guy (or gal) sitting across from you at a dinner table for two is texting or wearing headphones, He’s Just Not That Into You (2009).
I started my longer post with a stunning, relate-able quote from Beautiful Ruins, written by Jess Walter. I too awaken each morning, reach over, and take a digital hit from my cell phone. I look at the various icons and check their counts, disappointed if there are no red numbers floating over at least a few of them. Cell phones and electronics are here to stay, and I personally love being in such close contact with my friends and family. The challenge for me though, is to enjoy these digital interactions without letting them rule my work time, family time, and my time to dream.