His e-book Focus was also released in free version and is available here for you.
We live in curious times. It’s called the Age of Information, but in another light it can be called the Age of Distraction.
While humanity has never been free of distraction — from swatting those bothersome gnats around the fireplace to dealing with piles of paper mail and ringing telephones — never have the distractions been so voluminous, so overwhelming, so intense, so persistent as they are now. Ringing phones are one thing, but email notifications, Twitter and Facebook messages, an array of browser tabs open, and mobile devices that are always on and always beeping are quite another. More and more, we are connected, we are up to our necks in the stream of information, we are in the crossfire of the battle for our attention, and we are engaged in a harrying blur of multitasking activity.
It’s an Addiction
There’s instant positive feedback to such constant activities as checking
email, surfing the web, checking social networks such as blogs, forums,
Twitter and Facebook. That’s why it’s so easy to become addicted to being
connected and distracted.
Other addictive activities, such as doing drugs or eating junk food,
have the same kind of instant positive feedback — you do the activity, and
right away, you’re rewarded with something pleasurable but don’t feel the
negative consequences until much later. Checking email, or any similar
online activity, has that addictive quality of instant positive feedback and
delayed negative feedback.
You check your email and hey! A new email from a friend! You get a
positive feeling, perhaps a validation of your self-worth, when you receive a
new email. It feels good to get a message from someone. And thus the instant
positive feedback rewards you checking email, more and more frequently,
until the addiction is solidly ingrained.
How to Disconnect
So how do we go about disconnecting? There are varying strategies, and
no one is better than another. I won’t be able to tell you what will work best
for you — I suggest you experiment, and find a method that fits your needs
and situation best. Often that will be a hybrid approach, which is perfectly
great — every person is different, and no cookie-cutter approach will work
1. Unplug. Just unplug your network connector or cable, or turn off
your wireless router, or go to your connections settings and disable
temporarily. Close your browser and open another program so you
can focus on creating without distraction. Do this for as long as you
2. Have a disconnect time each day. It’s like setting office hours
if you’re a professor — you set the times that work best for you, and
you can even let people know about these times. Let’s say you are
disconnected from 8-10 a.m. each day, or 4-5 p.m., or even anytime
after 2 p.m. Tell people your policy, so they know you won’t be
available for email or IM. And use this time to create.