Are you too busy? Are you always in a hurry, juggling work and family tasks like balls in the air? Are you ready to snap?
You’re not alone. Millions of successful adults are being swept up by today’s frenetic, globalized, technology-driven lifestyle. We have plunged into a mad rush of activity, aided by high-speed Internet, cell phones, instant messaging, BlackBerries and email 24/7. We work longer hours, with escalating demands at work and home.
We expect our brains to keep track of more than they can handle and then find ourselves losing and forgetting things-impatient, anxious, worried and plagued by short attention spans. Modern life, for all of its timesaving conveniences, is sapping our creativity, humanity, joy and, occasionally, our sense of humor.
The speed of our lives threatens to destroy our most important connections. Unless you deliberately set aside time for what matters most to you, your connection to it will erode. When it does, you’ll find yourself less energetic, less optimistic, less hopeful, less confident and less enthusiastic than before-and you won’t even know why.
Since the mid-1990s, people have increasingly complained of being chronically inattentive, disorganized and overbooked. Most complaints originate from individuals who do not have clinically diagnosable attention deficit disorder. Instead, they suffer from what Dr. Edward M. Hallowell, author of CrazyBusy (Ballantine Books, 2006), calls “severe cases of modern life.”
People have developed environmentally induced attention deficits, he asserts-a phenomenon he describes as the “F-state”: frantic, frenzied, forgetful, flummoxed, frustrated and fragmented.
For many people, the F-state is fun. They use email, BlackBerries and other devices to remain stimulated at all times. Doing everything faster feels exciting. But living life faster, always coveting more data, won’t increase your sense of fulfillment or deepen your connections to what really matters. Instead, you create the overload you complain about and wind up craving it when faced with moments of stillness.
Human Deficit Disorder
Too much electronic time, coupled with a dearth of human moments, will lead to an as-yet-unnamed medical condition. Symptoms include loss of personal vitality, an inability to converse, a craving for a screen when separated from one and low-grade depression.
Email communication is a poor substitute for authentic human interaction. Electronic messages lack what makes communication interesting and emotional. We send an email because a phone conversation requires too much time, energy and complexity.
At the end of the day, the amount of time spent interacting with others is greatly reduced. While you may, indeed, produce more in less time, you’ll be faced with a gnawing feeling of emptiness and lack of fulfillment.
No one would suggest giving up laborsaving devices and the conveniences of email and the Internet. You do, however, need a system to stay on top of what matters most to you.
Here are 10 principles to help you stay on track, adapted from CrazyBusy:
1. Do what matters most to you.
2. Create a positive emotional environment-wherever you are-by developing meaningful connections with people and eliminating negativity.
3. Find your rhythm through astute time management and careful planning of your day.
4. Invest your time wisely by paying attention to how you use it.
5. Don’t get caught up in screen-sucking.
6. Identify and control sources of distraction.
7. Delegate what you don’t like or aren’t good at, and become interdependent with others.
8. Slow down. Stop and think.
9. Don’t multitask ineffectively.