Can you remember what you last read? Maybe traveling to work this morning. It was an interesting read but what was it about? who did it involve? can you remember? you read it whilst checking SMS on your smartphone, picking up the newspaper on the seat next to you at the same time as listening to music through your headphones. What did you husband, or wife say to you when you last spoke? Did you organise to meet a friend and discover it was the same evening as your wedding anniversary, but you’d forgot because your mind just wasn’t thinking clearly; this being a real example. Can you remember birthdays if Facebook or your birthday reminder application only reminds you first?
You’re probably suffering from Technology ‘Mind Frazzle’ or as South Korean doctors have reported ‘Digital Dementia’. The overuse of smartphones and technology limiting the brain from normal memory retention, but don’t worry it is not a new disease more a by-product of the explosion of professionals overloaded with information in the workplace coupled with our reliance on all things digital to run our lives. Unable to retain information, thanks to already having micro-seconds of small, often useless information in your head. You’re obsessed with social media links, checking Facebook or your mobile phone infinite times during the day, needing that blast or fix of what people ate, did, saw, took photos of and posted online.
My morning in numbers is a good example. I’ve already received 6 text messages, 5 different work calls and a few discussions over pinging over the internet. I checked two different email accounts three times an hour for new messages, being driven by email slave and not focusing on my tasks. See my earlier post about good email management productivity tips. I scanned an online news article, shared this online via LinkedIn and all of this was over a four hour period. No wonder my brain is full, about to explode even and I feel technically distracted or as the article I read that sparked this post suffering Digital Dementia symptons.
What is my next focus… nope it’s gone, thanks to an alert in my newsfeed about some useless mindless story. So with this in mind here’s some tips on ways to fight the need to always be connected:
- Notice the compulsions to check your phone or laptop. Identifying the behaviour is the first step in solving it.
- Follow the five-more rule: make yourself read for five more minutes before getting distracted
- Instead of spending your daily commute mindlessly browsing your phone, keep it in your bag, right at the bottom and read or just stare out the window. Basically no playing Candy Crush!
- Download an app like SelfControl, which blocks websites when you’re trying to work
- Develop your creativity. Daydream, doodle or learn a new skill.
- Build a rest into your day: stop every 60 to 90 minutes and get away from your computer and mobile phone – even if for just a few minutes.
- Exercise your mind with sudoku and memory games. Also try yoga if that’s your thing, meditation or t’ai chi.
- Switch it off! Only check your emails once an hour and turn those alerts off. Harder said than done I know!
As I wrote this piece I downloaded and tried out turning on the MAC application, ‘SelfControl’. It blocked me from checking Facebook or seeing my email alerts and that’s configurable, I put it on for one whole hour. Yikes I still have forty six minutes left… what to do now?! Now what was I doing next again?
What about re-training our brains? Try keeping distractions to minimum, What’s App, Facebook, Twitter can ALL wait. Have one day a week or set period where you surf social media. If reading something, take longer than your usual few minutes skim-reading and read for five or ten minutes longer. Check and test yourself what information you recall?
It’s also can be the key to your health and happiness, feeling less swamped and more aligned to the task in-hand. Try it today! Tell me what you changed and the effect it has had
References for more reading:
Aleks Krotoski, follow her on tumblr or check her book ‘Untangling the Web’
Surge in Digital Dementia: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/southkorea/10138403/Surge-in-digital-dementia.html
Grazia article on an alarming new report says our addiction to the internet is damaging our brains, resulting in memory loss and lack of concentration. But, is it scaremongering – or should we be worried?