Managing Digital Distraction and Hyper-connectivity And Staying Focused, Productive, and Stress-Balanced, Part 2 (Breather Episode with Brad)

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By Brad Kearns. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

In part 2 of this breather show, I dive even deeper into the topic of how to manage digital distraction and hyper-connectivity. I get honest about the shit that I struggle with by first acknowledging some things. This is the best way to heal and grow, because you heighten your awareness and give yourself a chance to do something about it.

One major thing I acknowledge we get a payoff (a dopamine hit) from receiving incoming stimulus. I acknowledge we then get another payoff from being helpful, giving advice or answers. The third hit comes from being focused and organized and getting our To Do List completed and our Inbox clean. This is good for the psyche, but obviously can be bad for productivity, as well as your overall stress level. Most of us can benefit from having a more focused and linear accomplishment of top priority goals and a more mindful approach.

Today, I see how the mobile device interrupts and corrupts live interpersonal interaction. Try to be aware of the intrusion, instead of just making it a given - at the same time, I hate being bored and wasting time, and I love to use technology to help me with a long drive or long line, so ultimately, it’s really all about balance.

I also try to remember the wise words of Tim Ferris, who says, “indiscriminate constant action” is a form of laziness. With his obsession with time optimization and systems’ efficiency in all areas of life, Ferriss strongly presses what a disgraceful waste of life it is when you find you’re repeatedly drawn to doing this:

“If you consistently feel the counterproductive need for volume and doing lots of stuff, put these on a Post-it note:

  1. Being busy is a form of laziness – lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.

  2. Being busy is most often used as a guise for avoiding the few critically important, but uncomfortable actions.

Remember, what you do is more important than how you do everything else, and doing something well does not make it important.”

British author James Hewitt calls it the “cognitive middle gear.” You may be under the illusion that you are busy and productive, but you’re actually engaged in a string of medium-demand cognitive tasks that are a far cry from true peak performance. In an article on JamesHewitt.net titled, “The Attention Paradox,” Hewitt details the “interweaving tasks” of a hypothetical office worker’s day, with each quip validated by a footnote to actual research (we reach for our phones an average of 150 times per day, etc.) My favorite excerpt comes during a morning of conference room meetings, where the worker, “switches between checking his smartphone and replying to emails, while pretending to write notes on his laptop.” Ouch! But I can admit that I notice when I drift into this cognitive middle gear - usually when I’m tired or have been working too long. I find my attention is split, elsewhere, and I’m not really concentrating on my desired task at hand. When you feel your focus and attention is wavering, just simply identify what’s going on, and take a nap, or get moving.

My main suggestion that I can stand by is to carve out deliberate winning strategies that are dummy proof - this is very important. Put alarms and reminders on your phone to ensure that you aren’t just sitting there working for 5 hours straight! We’ve learned from brain research that we can only really focus on a peak cognitive task for about 20 minutes at a time before our attention breaks and we need to take our focus off the task at hand. Obviously, this poses a challenge because the world we live in is so hyper connected and technology driven that fighting digital distraction is something we must all work at daily. Taking a break should NOT be optional - it needs to be prioritized and even pencilled into your schedule if necessary. Taking breaks satisfies your brain and your body’s needs for movement and fresh air, gives you some rare distance from all your devices and screen exposure, while allowing your mind to rest and refocus. That’s why part 2 of this show is so essential: because by learning how you can stay truly focused in the face of so much overwhelming distraction, you can learn how to be as productive and stress-free as possible.

TIMESTAMPS:

What are the payoffs when we hear the ding of our phone? [03:27]

It’s a highly stressful occupation to be on top of everything. [07:17]

Is it really a big deal when the absolute cutting edge of technology is not working perfectly? [10:01]

Be aware of how the mobile device interrupts and often corrupts live interpersonal interaction, [12:15]

If we learn to use technology wisely, we can make our lives easier and simpler. [14:13]

Tim Ferris says, “indiscriminate constant action is a form of laziness.” [16:04]

You may be under the illusion that you’re busy and productive, but you’re actually engaged in a string of medium demand cognitive tasks that are a far cry from true peak performance. [17:25]

Take breaks. [19:23]

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