Our obsession with distraction – time for a technology detox?

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I’d like to share a brief story. Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting with a CEO of a large and very successful company. He was interested in how we help clients achieve breakthrough results and simultaneously develop game-changing capability. And this meeting gave rise to the ‘obsession with distraction’ concept discussed in this short article.

Story of a great experience

It was an amazing meeting. We discussed a range of organisation challenges and opportunities. It was absolutely focused. We communicated exceptionally well, we understood each other and the issues at stake, we exchanged ideas and generally learned a great deal from each other.

No distractions!

After the meeting I reflected on how and why this happened. And can you guess the simple answer? We had no distractions! No cell phones in sight. No “do you mind if I take this call?” interruptions, no-one walking in to get signatures or ask questions, no laptops on the desk with flashing email signs demanding attention. It was a good experience and we both benefitted enormously. With great gratitude, I contrasted this to the many meetings that reflect the total opposite.

Recent research

Recent research indicated that we check our cell phones on average 110 times a day, For some people it’s a lot more. And now it seems the great executive ‘badge of honour’ is to carry two cell phones! Have we actually stopped to consider what impact this has on our productivity, our relationships, our success, our safety and other dimensions of life?

About focus

Focus is absolutely one of the greatest and most important success principles in all leadership, business and personal success. Extensive research, writing and practical experience confirms this. With every interruption we actually waste at least 5 minutes. Focus requires undivided, uninterrupted attention to the matters at hand. It requires dedicated time to plan the truly important things in life. Personal productivity demands significant chunks of dedicated time to achieve those really important and game changing things we need to do!

Alarming behaviour patterns

Yet consider our alarmingly increasing behavior patterns. How many of us wake up to immediately check emails, WhatsApp, Facebook, twitter etc. or make this the last thing we do before sleeping? During meetings or discussions, how often do we adopt those favourite habits of texting, taking calls etc? How much time do we spend in pointless attention to various forms of social media and technology? We are actually creating and inviting massive distraction into our lives!

Positive disruption

Information & communication technology has totally disrupted our traditional way of doing business and of living. And a lot of this disruption has been enormously positive with huge benefits to business and society.

The question

The question I’d like to raise is whether now is not the right time to stop and reflect on the impact our growing obsession with distraction is actually having on us? Is it not a smart move to consider a regular ‘technology detox’ hour, day or even week? Should we not review our personal habits? Would we not be more focused, more productive, more engaged, less stressed and significantly happier?

Invitation

I invite you to very seriously consider the value of focus and dedicated time invested in the really important areas of your life. I also invite you to reflect on the extent you are unconsciously trapped by the ‘obsession for distraction’. Is it time for a technology detox!

We’d also love to hear your views and experiences on the topic.

About the author

Ron McLuckie - Ron is Chairman & Chief Executive of WIAL India which he established in March 2012 and serves on the global board of the World Institute for Action Learning. He is a highly experienced international consultant and Action Learning authority. Ron has held senior executive roles in major organizations, senior lectureships and led a number of international consulting companies. His special interest is in developing skilled leaders who can drive business success and bridge the ‘knowing/doing gap’. His passion is challenging the conventional development approaches that do not work and finding effective ways of developing people and organization capability. He is also a proud granddad of three grandsons.

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