It is the ultimate empty-caloried brain candy. Instead of reaping the big rewards that come from sustained, focused effort, we instead reap empty rewards from completing a thousand little sugarcoated tasks.
Levitin, Daniel J. The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload. New York: Dutton/Penguin Group, 2014. Kindle file.
I recently discovered the down side of being a master of none. Juggling work, volunteer and familial obligations brought my world to a resounding halt at a time when I should have been celebrating.
But NO more.
My tendencies to do everything test me each day, and so I am re-structuring and organizing; prioritizing what is important. This common sense goal is not easy in a digital world where texts, emails and posts fly at 120 wpm. All of my world wide webbing easily keeps me plugged in to my social network. But what you see; isn’t truly what you get. You “appear” social with busy pictures, tweets and posts. But do you actually, physically or emotionally bond to a high resolution computer monitor; alone at your desk? I think not.
The “pure bell” notification triggers the automatic reflex for my hand to reach for the smartphone. My mind is trained to answer the immediacy of text; the instant gratification centers of my extroverted brain releasing dopamine and getting a neurochemical high. And with that, my focused attention is broken. I can be good at most things; exceptional at none. This results in loss of productivity, inattention, memory loss and mistakes.
I am on information overload.
One of my biggest pet peeves is when I sit across from a live, human being, and they are constantly checking and texting on their phone; before my very eyes. When time is my limited resource I am insulted. If someone expects a business call or an important message; this I can empathize with; with a short word of apology that you must continue to check your device. But when it is done on a consistent basis; I then draw the line.
In the not so distant past, my easily distractable nature craved the mini-dopaminergic high of doing multiple things at the same time. I was uber-productive. But there is always a hidden cost. I can quantify the many items on my to-do list but there is no true meaning or depth in any of these things. There is no quality. Currently, I de-clutter and go back to basics.
The highly attentive, focused state goes against my social, extroverted nature and ADD tendencies. I like being the jack-of-all trades; to enter conversations with tidbits and banter. I clicked the link in an email sent by my girlfriend and items #1, #3 and #6 sadly affirmed my identity; particularly item #6. OVERLOAD.
I watch my sons game and interact with others online…but is this really socializing? They attempt to do homework with music in the background, multiple colors lighting up the computer screen. They, too, are picking up my mult-tasking traits. And so I tell them how I am mediocre at all and master of none.
Multi-tasking is NOT allowed.
NOT while doing homework. Until the homework assignments are completed, the computer screens are turned off; soft music in the background. Nothing. Else.
Most especially NOT while driving. I cringe as I pass parents, each and every single morning, with phones in-hand texting AND driving their children to school. I am NOT a bluetooth user and have disabled the capability for phone calls to route through my car stereo. Safety always comes first.
NOT while working. My new rule at work is to limit cell phone texting to break times and lunch. During school hours I know if there truly is an emergency; the call would come through on my cell phone; not text.
NOT during dinner. The boys and I all place our phones on the counter during mealtimes. It is the only time during the day where we can truly sit together and connect as we increasingly balance full schedules. This time is SACRED and is rapidly dwindling.
NOT while socializing amongst friends. As explained above; it’s just plain rude. Note to my family and friends. If you need to contact me immediately, please pick up the phone and call.
It’s easy to avoid the social interactions of one-on-one, face-to-face. The art of communication is being lost with social media, texting and emails. I am guilty. This is my most preferred method of communicating. But humans are hard-wired to have social interactions; to feel connected and loved. The technology easily buffers against instant rejection; facial and body cues lost in cyberspace. We can browse Google, email, text and watch YouTube videos while socializing with our 300 plus friends and followers on Facebook or Instagram. But these are all empty, sugar-coated calories. Soon after the immediate sugar high comes the let down as we rapidly try to fill our time with more things to do; to feel like we’ve contributed something.
I have finally discovered the power of the word, “NO.” NO longer will I choose insipid, shallow activities and trivial details. NO longer will I choose quantity over quality. I am re-training my mind to be a uni-tasker; to focus my love and attention on what matters. NO is a choice.
I choose NO.