THE AGE OF DISTRACTION and what it means to us

THE AGE OF DISTRACTION and what it means to us

Most business directors are losing the plot. I am astounded at the sheer number of distractions.

Distraction is everywhere. In the outside office and in the office. At the desk. On your The Red Shoes 1948 film now

This is not a tirade about etiquette – don’t start me on mobiles in restaurants… this is simply a view on how things are changing and not necessarily for the better.

In meetings or conferences and even 1-2-1s there is a constant hum of mobiles and tablets clicking and cooing to notify their owner that some probably insignificant thing has happened on the internet. The fact that most of the noise is irrelevant or relatively irrelevant is not my beef. My problem is all about distraction and that is the nemesis of attention.

What concerns me is that the addiction to the little hit of dopamine (“Oh someone has sent me something I might find vaguely interesting!”) pervades not just our social and professional lives but also the quality of our work.

To be distracted means you cannot do a deep dive into your work. And the opposite of deep work is shallow work. So if you are happy doing shallow work then what on earth are you being paid for?

To a greater or lesser degree, most of us are now knowledge workers. We are paid for the quality of our thinking and of our decisions. If we aren’t able to really think hard about something – if we only come up with the first, front-of-mind solutions to problems – then I doubt if our thinking is that original. So why should people buy from us? I believe we need to create the opportunity to think deeply and profoundly about what we do. That is how we find original solutions. But there is a problem.

Few of us can do the deep thinking piece (see Deep Work by Cal Newport). Not only do few of us practise it, but we are seriously out of practice. Many have become so used to distraction that they have forgotten the habit of thinking carefully.

So, ask yourself, “Would you be able to create more effectively if you were in the habit of taking chunks of uninterrupted time without distraction?”