It is flu season again, that lovely time of year when we all scramble to get our vaccinations. We engage in hyper-conscious hand washing, carrying hand sanitizer in every car, purse and gym bag so as not to contract any “super-bug” and hope for the best.
So far, I’ve managed to avoid the nasty head cold that is going around. But to tell you the truth, I think I am suffering from a different type of malady these days. It’s a fatigue inducing type of ailment that I see others suffering from, yet we all have a hard time admitting.
To coin a phrase, I call it “tech-tigue.”
For me, tech-tigue comes on slowly, the first symptom in the form of a monotone, digitally generated voice in my head droning “Warning, warning….approaching technology overload, step away from the ipad.”
This is typically followed by bouts of staring at my computer screen wondering where I was before answering that last text message, or wishing I’d written down that pithy thought before being distracted reading yet another affordable care act rant sent by someone I don’t even know. Now I know why it’s called spam.
Some experience tech-tigue as an ache in the back of the brain causing its sufferer to question their sanity after realizing they’ve just mindlessly played Candy Crush for over two hours.
For people like me, tech-tigue can really hinder our ability to reach our highest creative heights, and frankly, sometimes hit our deadlines.
Typically, I ignore the symptoms of tech-tigue and barrel through the day moving dexterously through a barrage of emails, texts, tweets, IM’s, Facebook posts, and cell calls at warp speed. And then there is that familiar old friend, that old fashion thing in the corner fast collecting dust: my land line which also can’t be ignored try as I might.
The only exception is snail mail which I tend to go through once a week. I no longer think to myself as I kick off my heels and slip on my Uggs: “Calgon take me away,” but “snail mail take me away!”
Of course there are plenty of times I am able to hit that sweet spot of concentration and let the creative juices flow but this requires having the discipline to turn everything off and let low tech take hold.
And this dear readers, is like sinking in to a warm, candle-lit bubble bath. Ahhhhhhhh.
Yet, despite the obvious benefits, I’ve found turning off these distractions difficult and that’s when the truly creepy aspect of tech-tigue sets in. This is when that little voice in my head starts a slow drip, drip, drip of wicked, post-it-note-style thoughts in the form of “What am I missing? Who’s trying to reach me? What if I don’t answer someone in five seconds? Am I forgetting something?!”
Here’s a dirty little secret that I’ve discovered while pondering the toll invasive social networking and other technology is having on my life. I’ve found that nine times out of 10, when I create an environment, even for just an hour or two each day, in which I can deeply focus on my task at hand, be it writing, strategizing a business issue, penning a note to an old friend (yes, via snail mail), I am able to emerge back in to the technology fast lane with better concentration, ability and am less distracted overall.
Similar to making time to practice yoga or get to the gym, for me tuning things out is what makes the results so very rewarding.
Over the weekend, I happened to read an interesting article about the importance of escaping all the digital chaos in our lives today, especially for us inventive types who need to sit quietly and focus on meeting our deadlines….uh, I mean being creative.
The article pointed out that recent studies have demonstrated how chronic multi-taskers who are unable or unwilling to focus on one thing at a time, even when required to, are adversely affected both creatively and in terms of overall mental and physical health.
While technology may appear to make us more productive, if we allow it, it simply just makes us more busy, distracted and stressed.
After reading the article, I decided to initiate my own personal corporate policy related to the technology in my life. I realize that if unmanaged, tech-tigue could become chronic and take control.
So, while it may not be easy at times, I’ve made a vow to keep what is most useful in my life regarding technology, immunize myself when it comes to the superfluous and regularly stop and think about not thinking about so much all at once. I feel better already.
Lynn can be reached at [email protected]. Note: if she is taking a tech-tigue time out, she may not reply instantly.