I’ve recently acknowledged that my mobile phone addiction is a serious problem. How did I let this happen? Curiosity got the better of me and I decided to start digging and talking to others around the growing need to start iPhones Anonymous. What I found was disturbing. Did you know that Silicon Valley is borrowing principles from Vegas Casinos to engineer apps to be as addictive as possible? There’s actually a job called ‘Attention Engineering’ and its demand is growing. The concept known as brain-hacking is being used to rewire our brains. Studies show that social media use over time permanently affects our ability to concentrate for long periods and, as described by Dr Cal Newport in his book Deep Work on staying ahead in the future economy, to “think deeply”.
We are moving into an increasingly competitive economy with the rise of artificial intelligence. One of the best ways to remain relevant is to produce things that are rare and valuable, whereby deep thinking is fundamental. Hence, this kind of thinking, the very thing that is obstructed by social media, is one of the essential skills required to thrive in the future.
How is that we take back control of our distracted brains, our mental wellbeing and create the space for presence, deep thought and perhaps most importantly, human connection?
Switch Off To Switch On
Create the space once a day for undisturbed work. Turn off every notification on your computer, shut down your email and turn your phone off, if only for an hour a day, and watch what happens. This simple practice over the past months has seen my productivity skyrocket.
Find one hour per week to get off the tech grid and connect through conversation and experiences with humans. Introduce the concept in your workplace, at home or with your friends. Observe how you feel after #HumanHour. This might be enough to motivate you to make it a permanent gig.
Opportunity lies at the other end of human connection. The more I get uncomfortable and talk to random strangers, the more interesting my life and work get. I had long been fanning the amazing work of Dom Price (Atlassian’s Work Futurist and R&D Lead). I’d tried to contact him multiple times via LinkedIn, so that I could interview him for the Future Proof YouTube Series, to no avail. Recently I attended the SingularityU Conference in Sydney and while grabbing a coffee, I struck up a conversation with a random stranger waiting beside me. Part way into the conversation the stranger introduced himself as Dom Price. As I expected, we shared similar curiosities, and when I asked him for an interview, at that moment he said “YES”. What a missed opportunity that would have been if I hadn’t said “Hi”. Subscribe here to Future Proof and stay tuned for Dom’s interview.
Finally, I have a challenge for you. Grab a pen and paper. Watch this Tedx Talk by Dr Cal Newport, a successful millennial who has never used social media. Every time you check your phone (or, social media on your computer) or whenever you feel the urge to check it, mark it down. I bet you’ll be surprised by how strong that little chunk of metal’s hold is over you. I know I was.
For more simple tactics to Future Proof your happiness in work and life subscribe now to our YouTube video series Future Proof. This is where I open the doors to my global network of thought leaders, game changers, and innovators to provide disruptive tips and tactics that will help you future-proof your happiness in a world that can often feel uncertain and overwhelming.
Last week I started full time for eight weeks in the first Australian Antler Cohort in Sydney. Antler is an incubator program that focuses on creating the next wave of tech companies. They had over 1000 applicants but accepted only 71 amazing humans of which I was fortunate enough to be one. Some may consider this a success but at the end of week one, I found myself questioning if this is success, why do I feel so uncomfortable?