I was at a presentation not long ago and the speaker asked attendees to turn off their mobile devices. One of the attendees leaned over to his friend and said, “There are so many options anymore that I can’t find Off!”
Has that ever happened to you? You find yourself going to your device for one thing and 45 minutes later you lift up your head and realize that you are miles from where you started and you barely remember what it was that you first came in to look for.
There are so many options, distractions, pop ups and rabbit holes that assault you every time you log on. Your attention is diverted constantly and you find that it is really hard to stay on task.
People say your attention span is getting shorter.
I don’t think your attention span is getting shorter. I think you’re letting someone tell you that your attention span is getting shorter and that you’re accepting this as a fact.
What is really happening is that you’re developing the bad habit of not making yourself focus for any length of time. You’ve gotten lazy. You’ve let people tell you that you can’t, so you don’t.
This is particularly troubling because it means you’ve given away your power to think beyond the superficial and, more importantly, to think independently and creatively. What you should do is choose to spend some time intentionally developing your brain’s massive power.
Your brain is a muscle and it needs to be exercised to stay healthy. When you do not go beneath the surface and exercise your critical thinking abilities, your brain atrophies. When you blindly accept what you’re fed as the truth, and do not apply independent thought, your brain atrophies. When you do not bother to flex your creative muscles, your brain atrophies.
The ability to discern what’s important to the task at hand and what’s complete fluff is the skill you need to be developing, not the ability to jump like a flea from stimulus to stimulus without delving deeper. The ability to take an idea and fully explore it from multiple perspectives is what you need to be developing. The ability to find creative solutions to problems is what you should be developing.
The quickest way to do all this is to find the Off button … and use it!
When you do it’s like lifting your head up out of a fog. You open your eyes and reorient yourself to where you are sitting or standing, to the sounds and smells around you. To what’s going on around you and where you fit in.
Making a habit of regularly finding the Off button allows you not just to maintain your sanity, but to immerse yourself in the sheer joy of being able to think clearly each day.
So don’t settle for the status quo and don’t let someone else determine what you and your brain are capable of. Prove them wrong by turning off your device, then fully engaging in whatever the task at hand is. You’ll find that you will engage your brain in critical thinking, you will have independent thought and you will spark your imagination and your creativity.
Like many great innovators, Cass Mullane has the unique combination of being a strong creative as well as a strategic thinking MBA. After departing the corporate world in 2004, Cass built a thriving business and personal coaching practice that focuses on accountability and specializes in solid business skills for right brainers and creatives. Tapping into this whole brain approach has helped to make Cass a highly valued coach with an international clientele. Cass’ book, The Cool Stuff Jar: Three Simple Ways to Live a Happier Life, will be out at the end of the month! Keep tabs on the book launch by liking her page on Facebook!