Going to work to answer emails won’t make you a better emailer, just as another five minutes on Twitter won’t improve your social networking game. Email, Twitter, and incoming messages drain our cognitive fitness.
The newest technologies erode their physical counterparts, but they also revitalize interest in the old stuff.
The sensory, tactile experience of analog items as those listed above literally feel more special. They are stimulants: the subtle noise of a telltale “tick-tock,” the fresh smell of an unopened book, or the surface noise of vinyl, not to mention the album art that doubles as real-life Instagrams to make fancy wall art
People want reality. They want to disconnect from the internet’s dizzying pace and reconnect to those micro moments.
Nature nurtures and refocuses our sense of being. We are more than just robots seeking the temporary therapy of distraction.
Clickbait is the result of a 24/7 news cycle. Media companies create stories of unimportance so that they can get another click to drive up revenues. The entire operation intends to suck your attention and waste your time, along with depleting your brain cells.
In short, the news makes your brain fat. That’s why you have to step away from Twitter and reset your RSS feeds every six months. Delete the newsletters that contain links to useless articles. Or just read books. Consuming all the headlines makes none of them significant, leaving little room in your head for remembering what is actually important. Shane Parrish of the educational Farnam Street blog recently dissected the abundance of media in an article entitled ‘The Pot-Belly of Ignorance‘:
“Clickbait media is not a nutritious diet. Most people brush this off and say that it doesn’t matter … that it’s just harmless entertainment.
But it’s not harmless at all. Worse, it’s like cocaine. It causes our brains to light up and feel good. The more of it we consume, the more of it we want. It’s a vicious cycle.”
Be careful what you take in as it directly influences what you put back out. Even more, reflect on what you read since that’s where you connect ideas and start to develop your own. Of course, you need to identify trustworthy sources. Start with the publication and curators you trust and make a list of potential resources based on their hyperlinks.
Fill your mind with less, not more. And most importantly, work it off, trying to make sense of what you absorbed in the attempt to craft an original thought.
Answering emails during a meeting. Tweeting a live debate. Multitasking is more tempting than ever because it’s too easy to flip between screens of content.
“What we’re often calling multitasking is in fact internet addiction. It’s a compulsive act, not an act of multitasking.”
Conversely, multitasking sustains creativity. Switching between projects may help you to see how they connect. Multitasking leads to flow which leads to new ideas.
“The act of switching back and forth can grease the wheels of thought.”
Either way, we can hardly remember when our brain is half-engaged. Pro tip: if you’re suffering from the anxiety of unfinished tasks, aka the “Zeigarnik effect,” write them down and come back to them later.
When all of our information — images, art, news, modes of communication — is mediated through the same screen, the notion of value, of what is important and unimportant, even in a subjective, personal sense, becomes murky. Births, deaths, celebrity mug shots, piano-playing kittens, children we don’t know engaging in wackiness, war, poverty, photos of salt shakers and table sets, tales of the mundane, puns: This is all funneled and flattened, much to our delight and convenience, of course. Everything is a headline, everything is front page
The mobile screen begs for quick attention. You could say the same for paper and countless other formats, but those we’re harder to flick away so we spent more time on them. Nowadays everything is just a swipe, the focus of a fish.
Remember, too, that stress is not a function of events; it’s a function of the view you take of events.You think a particular thing is going to happen and that when it does, it’s going to be awful. But prediction is an illusion. We can’t know what’s going to happen. So give yourself five reasons you won’t lose the job. Then think of five reasons why, if you did, it would be an advantage—new opportunities, more time with family, et cetera. Now you’ve gone from thinking it’s definitely going to happen to thinking maybe it will and even if it does, you’ll be OK.
Control the mind, control the reaction, control the stress. Keep it all in perspective. And then relax in the moment.
It’s going to sound corny, but I believe it fully: Life consists only of moments, nothing more than that. So if you make the moment matter, it all matters. You can be mindful, you can be mindless. You can win, you can lose. The worst case is to be mindless and lose. So when you’re doing anything, be mindful, notice new things, make it meaningful to you, and you’ll prosper.