Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Concentration and Its Enemies

When I compare working at home now to the last time I did it (1990-1992), I can see the difference in three letters: DSL.

When email meant dial-up and Compuserve charging me by the minute, I monitored my online time carefully.

Now concentration comes harder. Sometimes I work in the guest cabin, because it has no telephone -- not even a cell-phone signal -- and of course no Web access.

Furthermore, says Winifred Gallagher, author of Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life, "multitasking is a myth."

“You cannot do two things at once. The mechanism of attention is selection: it’s either this or it’s that.” She points to calculations that the typical person’s brain can process 173 billion bits of information over the course of a lifetime.

“People don’t understand that attention is a finite resource, like money,” she said. “Do you want to invest your cognitive cash on endless Twittering or Net surfing or couch potatoing? You’re constantly making choices, and your choices determine your experience, just as William James said.”



Blogger Magaly Guerrero said...

Great post and so very true. I used to write on my laptop with the wireless access turned off. A few months ago that changed, and it affected my productivity in terrible ways. Every time I got mail, I would stop writing and see if it was important--like it wasn't going to be there after I was done writing, right?

I was also spending way too much time on social network sites. I had so many profiles that I couldn't keep up. I'm not absolutely out of the woods yet, but I deleted about 50% of my accounts, and I'm still working on it. Also, starting tonight, I'm going back to writing off line. Your post gave me the little push I needed.

Thanks a bunch!

10:10 AM  

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