Ellen Daehnick, owner of the management consulting agency, b-spoke group, says our heightened distraction leaves us depleted and worn. Back to back meetings used to leave her breathless until she found a secret strategy to disengage from clock combat. No more shiny object distraction for her!

Listen in on how she managed to move from jumbled schedules to joy!

If you like what you hear, don’t forget to right-click, save, then place your Power of Slow badge of honor anywhere in your social media universe. We appreciate you spreading the word that slow is faster and that fast is merely exhausting!

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Arielle Ford was in the air, heading towards Las Vegas while she read my book (and ‘highlighted much of it’ she said in an email – she likes it. She really likes it!). Her husband, sitting next to her, kept poking her in the side while he read a recent New York magazine article by Sam Anderson entitled “The Benefits of Distraction and Overstimulation”. She was amazed at the parallels in my book with his article. It was a funny moment of synchronicity as they soared the Western skies.

socratesNaturally curious, I googled Sam’s article to see what similarities I might find. His article was distinctly hilarious, giving our collective worry about distraction a new spin. Never snarky (I hate snarky), always pithy (I love pithy), his article hits the nail on the head.

Maybe there is some neurological benefit to all this connectivity. (Grossly absent in his argumentation about the younger generation is the fact that, until around age twenty, people in general have higher cognitive abilities than our sagging middle-aged brains, but who am I to be a wet blanket at his party?) Perhaps, his article suggests, we can positively alter our brain’s wiring through technology after all.

My issue with our hyperconnected world is what gets lost in the translation. We text, ping, upload and download with abandon. But how much time do we waste in the process? Is a superhuman brain truly desirable? To what end?

His article is balanced (because he gives my camp ample play), yet critical of too much outcry over technological advances and their damage it might inflict on our tender brains. Technophobes have always dampened the spirits of those who enjoy its benefits. After all, he rightly paraphrases Socrates, the greatest orator who ever lived, as saying the written word was scandalous for its ‘memory-destroying properties’ because, well, it was a recording of wisdom and not the wisdom itself.

In my mind, writing is an organized system lending structure to thought, but it is not the thoughts themselves. Without drifting too far into epistimology, I would note that our pleasure systems have altered dramatically. We have moved from a visual society to an oral society to a visual one again. Before we could speak, we painted pictures on cave walls. Then came speech and the value of oration. We later developed a vastly distributed writing system with more visual stimuli (Greek statues, tablets and monuments come to mind). Auditory pleasures remained through music and a common delivery system called radio. Then, taking a leap through the centuries came the prominence of the visual medium again through television and now YouTube.

Each generation deals with its own level of distraction. Whatever triggers it is rather immaterial – what is important is how we manage the distractions as they come. I favor mindful living over filling the mind with senseless chatter.

What’s your take?

…and Action!

May 11, 2009

Multitasking is a nightmare for anyone who loves her concentration. Maybe it has something to do with my getting older, but I really like to do one thing well rather than try to do three things at once with less regard for the outcome.

dreamsToday I played a small part on a cop show. It seems every time I do this, I have my scene right before lunch when the crew’s motivation is at its lowest. The camera team seemed sturdy enough, but I could tell the main actors were punchy. The camera would go off, and one of the actors would pick up his cell phone to resume the video game he had been playing all morning. My heart was pounding, my mouth was dry, and I could feel my entire frame shaking. For him it was just another day at the office.

I occasionally play bit parts on TV to keep my life interesting and to guarantee I do at least one thing a day that scares me (somebody wise once said that – it keeps your senses sharp, he claims). So I was astonished when he didn’t turn off his phone, but actually had it in his pocket during filming. Granted, it was a short scene, but I could tell his concentration was pretty low. His heart wasn’t in it. And I felt slightly perplexed by the whole thing.

If your work doesn’t make you jump for joy, why do it? If what you spend most of your time doing is wishing you were somewhere else, why aren’t you?

The actor plays for a hit TV series and seemed to care less. I walked away from the experience realizing not everyone is living his dream. What would the world be like if everyone were?

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