I’m as much of a sucker for productivity articles as the next person, and this article was one of the better ones. http://www.businessinsider.com/6-things-the-most-productive-people-do-every-day-2014-6?IR=T
It’s safe to guess that if you’re reading this, you have a smartphone, if you’re not in fact reading this on a smartphone. Through poor planning, I’m writing this on a smartphone rather than one of the many devices I could reach for that also have internet access and the ability to transcribe my thoughts to the internet.
It was over six years ago that I started using a smartphone – a friend told me at the time that I’d enjoy it for a while, but would eventually go back to the feature phones, as they were not great things to have. He was probably right at the time, but we’re seeing a landslide transition away from feature phones toward smartphones now, and it seems unlikely people will go back.
When I first had an email address (1994), I had to check the email via a computer in a lab at uni, or if I was lucky, via a modem in a tent window. It was a clearly demarcated task with a beginning and an end. It was possible to run a program that would tell you whether you had email, and see a visual indicator of that on your computer screen, but this was an oddity: email messages were still quite infrequent in my life, though I spent a lot of time on them even then.
Once you own a smartphone, your relationship with notifications changes. It’s possible to switch them off, but the default with everything you install onto the phone is to add another source of interruptions to your life.
The emerging trend of “Wearables” – an additional device or devices that is easier to access than a smartphone – will bring this carnival of distractions even closer. I still wear an analog wristwatch, and use it to look up the date and time on a regular basis. My watch, though a potential distraction, cannot give me any new tasks from other people. A smart watch, though, is a potential source of additional stress with every glance.
More challenging still is an eyewear solution like Google Glass. Never mind the privacy concerns (for now): what happens when the kind of context-sensitive advertising and updates begin to be superimposed on everything that you see?
As we head toward a future where interruptions are ubiquitous, spend some time now practicing unplugging, before it becomes even harder to quiet the recurrent hum.