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In This Episode…

Whilst on the road delivering live Seminars, I talk about how society is so addicted to distraction that some of our bigger institutions are starting to cater for and pander to that addiction. I share some alarming experiences of other people’s distraction and recommends steps you can take to reduce your dependency on checking your smartphone.

Episode Show Notes

00:09 – Why I am in a hotel in the North West of England – I am running a three day programme.

00:38 – I have noticed the bathroom has a speaker connected to the TV in the bedroom.

01:28 – The builders/owners of the hotel felt the need to ensure their guests are constantly “plugged in” to the TV.

01:55 – This got me reflecting on the evolution of our society into one that needs constant distraction/stimulation.

02:17 – I don’t own a TV – haven’t done for years now. Whenever I find myself watching any TV, for example if I am visiting a friend who has it on, I have been amazed at how the filming of adverts and even dramas has pandered to the low attention span of the average viewer.

04:31 – The reason we crave and are addicted to the stimulation of rapidly changing scenes and short burst adverts, is because we are hardwired to detect novelty. It is a survival system. We needed to be able to spot when things change in our environment because every change could potentially be a threat.

05:20 – Today that constant need for stimulation keeps us glued to our devices. The speaker in my hotel bathroom is an example of how society is normalising that addiction.

05:48 – That addiction may be dangerous. On one day in the last week I have seen a father walking down the street carrying his young daughter on his shoulders whilst reading from his smartphone! If he stumbled through his inattention and she fell, it was an 8 foot drop for her onto hard concrete.

06:57 – A few moments later I saw a young mother pushing her child in a pushchair as she was glued to her phone. Moments later a lorry driver was glued to his phone as he edged forward in the slow moving traffic.

08:35 – I’m not immune to the automatic tendency to check my phone either – because it is a hardwired need I am fulfilling. I meditate every morning using the Headspace App on my phone. I regularly catch my thumb reaching for the Gmail icon when I open the phone.

09:40 – I have noticed how easy it is for me to check Facebook Messages, WhatsApp and Gmail every time I am inactive or waiting for something. I have turned my alerts off and now I am practicing resisting the random checking as a way of developing my discipline.

10:54 – The benefit to me of staying unplugged for longer periods during the day is that I can focus more of my effort for longer on my Main Thing. I talk more extensively about this in my episodes about Cal Newport’s book “Deep Work”.

12:29 – My recommendation to you is to notice whenever you are drawn to checking your smartphone and then track how often during the day you do that – you’ll be surprised. Diluting your attention and awareness is only diluting the quality of your life.

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