[This] “brainy” economy … designed to produce … happiness is a fantastic vicious circle which must either manufacture more and more pleasures or collapse—providing a constant titillation of the ears, eyes, and nerve ends with incessant streams of almost inescapable noise and visual distractions. The perfect “subject” for the aims of this economy is the person who continuously itches his ears with the radio, preferably using the portable kind which can go with him at all hours and in all places. His eyes flit without rest from television screen, to newspaper, to magazine, keeping him in a sort of orgasm-without-release through a series of teasing glimpses of shiny automobiles, shiny female bodies, and other sensuous surfaces, interspersed with such restorers of sensitivity – shock treatments – as ‘human interest’ shots of criminals, mangled bodies, wrecked airplanes prize fights, and burning buildings …[i]
If only the philosopher Alan W. Watts could have foreseen the advent of the internet, social media, and the smartphone, these words he wrote in 1951 for his book The Wisdom of Insecurity would have been even more alarmist.
We face today and unprecedented barrage of stimuli, literally engineered to distract us from our focus. In 2018, Silicon Valley insiders finally fessed up to a long-suspected scheme: Social media apps are “deliberately” engineered to be addictive to users. Duh.
“Behind every screen on your phone, there are generally, like literally, a thousand engineers that have worked on this thing to try to make it maximally addicting,” a former Mozilla and Jawbone staffer told the BBC last year.
At the same time, the long-held myth of “multitasking” recently imploded with new neuroscientific research. Our brain doesn’t really do several things simultaneously. Instead, there’s a stop-start process, even with tasks such as reading while listening to music. That translates to a loss of focus.
So more than ever we need help to concentrate on the important, mission-based tasks that we want to do (our work)—not those our new “drug-dealers” want us to (their latest shiny object).
No surprise, the focus tools industry is blowing up, especially with new apps. You can create, store, curate, and edit all your ideas. You can collaborate in real time with your coworkers all over the globe. You can schedule and track all your meetings and appointments. You can monitor how often you get distracted, and what causes it. You can lock yourself out of social media sites. You can get a ping every three hours to meditate for 10 minutes.
There’s even a program that will delete everything you’ve just written if you stop typing for five seconds! Yikes. Just what we need at work–even more pressure.
We love new tech. We live for it. But let’s face it, all of this stuff is just more distraction. More pieces of candy. More Oops, there’s a squirrel!
People—can we simply focus? When and how we want? On our own terms?
We can. We can focus. At will.
Put your headphones on. Pick a channel. Set the timer. Get to work.
At Focus@Will, we’ll never delete your hard work–only help you get it done.