The Distraction Economy

Get into the office… super tired, eyes burning, coffee squeaking as it surges out of a Keurig pouring in the background. Should have gone to bed sooner last night, but the overwhelming desire to scroll my Facebook news feed for just a few more minutes, read the news, or study why Cuba has such old cars kept me awake by the glowing light of a cell phone screen.

Coffee’s poured, I’m starting to dig into my task list. Three monitors flash up tools, my email and Skype. Notifications start chiming in as I settle into the usual routine. The battle starts of 6 different instant message conversations along side Slack, Skype, email, Facebook messages and texts.

Ok, we’ve GOT to be productive… Close all windows except the focus task. Task list is up, let’s rock!

Digging into running tests… Opening tabs… Control T.. F.. Enter… Facebook’s open. Just a quick glance… suddenly a story flashes up about car licking moose in Calgary, my favorite TV show and another loved celebrity has passed away.

The Distraction Economy…

…children to go without parents as they mindlessly scroll social media.
…you must be online 24/7 (you didn’t respond to a text within moments?)
…quick responses are more favorable than getting back to someone
…instant gratification and impulse purchases
…a constant onslaught of app updates, emails, news, notifications, social, texts clamouring for your attention!

Have we bought into an inconvenient lie?

One that says you cannot ignore social media in 2016 and beyond? 
One that says we must remain connected/available all the time?
One that says you cannot be successful without all this?

Cal Newport’s book “Deep Work” proposes a fascinating idea. What if we disconnected a lot more? What if we were able to spend hours of completely focused — undistracted deep and meaningful time committed to a goal?

What if, we allowed ourselves the gift of boredom? Letting our minds wander freely — not being fed a never ending supply of cheap, thin mind candy only meant to distract us?

Is this the death of daydreaming? The complete loss of letting our minds chew on ideas while we drive, walk, or run places? What if you found out that science actually proves this ‘mindless’ time is actually incredibly powerful. What if losing those insanely deep moments of thought is actually costing us way more than we realize?

What if our distraction is preventing a message the world needs to hear from escaping our keyboards and lips?

What if our children subconsciously experience our distraction as a conscious choice to ignore them or give them a lower priority?

What if… our greatest works are trapped.

There’s loads more what-ifs to share. I don’t have time to write war and peace on the topic like Cal has, but what I do know is this. In 2017 I will FIGHT to use social media and distractions less. I will hone my craft deeper and drive deep into writing more books and building more technologies that will change the world… in the email and market research spaces.

My brain will wander more and solve more things… I’ll create more content and consume less. I’ll save more money not chasing after the latest junk and make wiser decisions. I’ll experience better mental health and happiness not watching others live.

My children and I will remember more memories together. I’ll be more consciously aware of what they’re going through and impart more wisdom.

I think escaping the distraction economy will cause some people to lose respect for those who built their career in it, but the rewards are sweeter than the cost.

One last bit… Cal Newport and others believe in quitting social media. I however do NOT believe in that. However, I do believe in using it as a broadcast only mechanism. Limiting exposure to 30 mins a day or less. I believe that having a tight reign on our information diet is the KEY to unbeatable success in the future.

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