This IS the Age of Distraction !

5 Apr

focus, distraction, gtd, timeImage Courtesy – Corbis


Lets say my destination is “writing this blog post”. Now I am not sure about the route which will take me to my destination. My only help at hand is the type of arrow signals which you seen in the above image. The challenging part, there are many such arrows on my way and each one is highly sensitive to wind. A slight breeze and the arrow changes its direction influenced by the breeze. And its one helluva windy day out there. Difficult to reach my destination eh?

Now getting to a real life analogy to the above story, our destination can be any work which is required on a computer or for that matter any work in today’s age in general. The different arrows represent a million things screaming for our attention, be it – blogs, podcasts, various RSS feeds, emails, You Tube, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Mobile Phone Calls and Text Messages, TV, etc etc.

Welcome to the age of distraction my fellow companions!

We have everything available on our fingertips, millions of books, equal no. of TV shows and movies, so many goals to achieve, so much to do, so many people to meet or stay in touch. But we have lost the most important thing which enables us to do everything we wish to – Focus!

If I could buy one thing, it would surely be Focus. How life-saving it would be, if we could buy Focus say for 1 hr or  5 hours or 10 hours and so on. We would become so much more efficient, accomplish a lot than now and be in balance at various different fronts of our life.

But unfortunately or fortunately so many things in life are not capitalistic! 🙂

Just like happiness(at-least not the real one), peace, contentment is not sold in stores, so is Focus! To see it differently all the things which is valuable in life such is our mind, our will, our ability to make choices/decisions, our relationships are all free!

When was the last time when you were doing some important work and you got distracted by an email or Twitter or a call or a text msg or a TED Talk some one recommended and then started a cycle for further exploration, further clicking on links and before you realize the main work is yet to be done and a good couple of hours has passed??? Not too long ago right…or rather just sometime back?

There is no doubt Technology/Internet has empowered us, changed the way we live, work and play, but with it has come along many challenges which really test us on how we choose to spend our time and energy and sometimes also money!

Add to that a new beast or a new child(considering how it keeps crying for our attention) in the form of Social Media : multitasking, time management, to-do lists, self-management takes a new meaning all-together!

Whats interesting is that we spend so much time on being distracted yet we don’t seem to mind it or regret it not until later when the realization strikes us that we haven’t done much work today. My observation suggests that Social Media feeds dangerously and effectively on our human nature to be always feel busy, to be always gathering attention, to be involved, to feel attached, to be in the news.

I don’t know about you, but I surely love when I am Re-tweeted, or mentioned or replied to my tweets. or when some one “LIKES” my status,photos on Facebook, or when some one comments on my status/photos, etc. It feels good to be involved in a conversation. It makes me feel wanted, to be in the groove! Though I really hate when I comment on some one else activity and whenever some more people join in, I get notified that so on and so as commented on something you commented on! Duh! As a matter of fact Facebook tried to solve this by having an “unsubscribe” feature, but then apparently the foot-falls of people coming to Facebook dropped considerably(which was expected) and hence Facebook decided to do-away! Its a form of forcing us to accept something, but then what choice do we have!

I would not want to come to a conclusion that all this is bad, just that we need to be more alert, more careful, more disciplined on how we live our everyday lives! Though I am still surprised how few people are not even online at all. No email, no Facebook, nothing! These people truly enjoy the stone-age I guess. Just my opinion and I may be wrong. Its all subjective and relative to an extent!

This should ideally be a different post as to why go online, why go social! (Yes these tools have an immense power to distract us, but at the same time they are also immensely powerful in enabling us to stay in touch with people whom we care about and not only that but also connecting us with people who have accomplished a lot in life and can be inspiring for others. Those people are a mix of celebrities, politicians, sports-person, journalist, opinion-makers, authors, etc etc. Its a flat world now where people are changing from one job to next very fast and with a change of job comes change of location a lot of times. Friend, family are spread out through out the globe and Facebook enables us to be in touch! To be a part of what they are up-to, their photos of celebrations of festivals, if they have a new-born baby, the journey of that baby as he/she grows! Its just fantastic! And all these without being intrusive! Its like gossiping(for the lack of a better term) without actually making an effort to do so!

Imagine I saw a movie or went to a restaurant, and then sent text msgs, emails to people about whether I liked the movie/food or not. Crazy isn’t it? People would wonder whats wrong with me and what the hell am I updating them with all these details of my life! But this is exactly what I am doing constantly and people are chipping in and being a part of the conversation. Some disagree with my movie reviews, some agree, some were looking forward to the movie and my review may change their plans, etc etc!)

So get that to-do lists going and enjoy the online world provided its in balance and that it doesn’t hamper with the more meaningful things like your work-livelihood and your family!

Am keen to hear what you think?



P.S. – It took me a long time to finish this post! Yes distraction was my constant companion!


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