Imagine Einstein having a smartphone. He would not get any work done. Or Rembrandt constantly making selfies on Instagram. Would The Night Watch ever be finished? The irony is that the technology that has led to modern inventions like the smartphone has come from great minds and creative thinkers in the 19th, 20th and 21st century. Without knowing it they were working on technological distractions that are killing our current focus.
Technological distractions are killing my focus too. This morning when I sat behind my desk and started working I received some messages on my phone. First a few WhatsApps from friends and family. I checked them and answered them all. Then I received some new e-mails. After that I checked if there were any new postings on some blogs I follow. Before I knew it I was on facebook looking at random pictures from people I hardly knew. An hour later I resumed the thing I was working on. All the messages, blogs and pictures were still in the back of my mind.
Einstein will just be another smart guy with a weird haircut and a cool brother
Einstein and his smartphone
Imagine this. Einstein is sitting behind his large oak desk in a dark room. He is working on his ‘theory of relativity’. Just when he is busy working on a very complex mathematical equation his phone buzzes. Instinctively he grabs it from his pocket and starts reading the message. It is a WhatsApp message from his brother Zweistein “Hey Einie, hows life? Busy? Get away from your desk you nerd! Let’s grab a beer together tonight.” Einstein sends back “Hi. Everything’s okay. Thx. Beer tonight is fine.” Then he goes back to his work. Trying to concentrate. “Now where was I…hmmm…I hate it when he calls me a nerd like that…”
Three minutes later his phone – that is now lying in front of him on the desk – buzzes again and lights up the entire room. He can’t resist the temptation to check the message. His brother again “Cool. See ya later.” He sighs and puts it down. Five minutes later it buzzes again. His brother “Did you read that review on the internet about that new pub? Lets go there!” Curious about the pub Einstein browses the web and finds the review. “He is right. That looks like a great pub!” Then he sends his brother two emoticons: a ‘thumbs up’ and a ‘pint of beer’.
Fifteen minutes later he receives an e-mail with an ad for pills with the text “Pub night? No hangover tomorrow? Take these before you go to sleep and you’ll be fine.”
You guessed it; with all these technological distractions the theory of relativity will never be finished. Einstein will just be another smart guy with a weird haircut and a cool brother.
Van gogh Constantly messaging his brother Theo
Rembrandt and Van Gogh making selfies
What if Rembrandt was glued to his smartphone? Totally addicted to making selfies and putting them on Instagram. Would The Night Watch ever be completed? Or Van Gogh? What if – in stead of being addicted to that absinthe stuff – he would be a smartphone junkie? Making selfies and constantly messaging his brother Theo. Would we even know who he was?
The people around you need your attention and focus
Technological distractions are killing our focus. Whatever you want to achieve in life, it probably needs attention and concentration. It needs you being able to focus. The people around you need your attention and focus. Technological distractions are pulling us away from them.
The irony is that the technology that has led to modern inventions like the smartphone has come from great minds in the 19th, 20th and 21st century. Brilliant minds that were still able to focus without technological distractions. Without knowing it they were working on technology that is killing our current focus. And that is stopping us from achieving great new things.
Start with a morning without technological distractions
We need to fight back and reclaim our ability to focus. Let’s start tomorrow with a ‘morning without technological distractions’. Tomorrow, when we start working, we first mute all our notifications (or put our phones on airplane mode). We will not open our e-mail programs either. Let’s start our day with making a planning. What is it that we want to finish today? Then start working and resist the temptation to check your messages or social media. By noon you are allowed to check your messages. You will see that you missed nothing important and that you will be glad you put in a few hours of focused work.
After all that hard work you deserve a pint of beer!
And when your productive day – without technological distractions – is over you can go to the pub with your brother. After all that hard work you deserve a pint of beer!