Do you suffer from data deluge? Three tips for restoring focus and creativity
Do you feel more distracted these days? Are you overwhelmed with the amount of information that bombards your inbox?
Nicholas Carr, author of “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing To Our Brains,” says that the human brain is shaped by “tools of the mind” — technologies we use to find, store, and share information. These “tools” can change the neural pathways of our brain and inhibit our ability to concentrate and be reflective, focused, and creative. Carr calls these the “personal consequences of the data deluge.”
For writers, this is not good news.
With the advent of the Internet, including applications such as Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail, we take in constant streams of data. For example, people process information differently online — skimming — than they do when reading books.
Printed books focus our attention, promoting deep and creative thought, while the Internet encourages the rapid, distracted sampling of small bits of information from many sources, Carr says.
If you’re feeling more distracted and unfocused, the data deluge may explain why. So how do we make sure we can take the best of new technologies and tools, but retain our ability to think critically and deeply?
Try these ideas:
- Arrange your schedule to allow for more periods of focused work. For example, schedule time to process e-mail several times a day instead of obsessively checking it all day.
- Avoid multitasking. Do one thing at a time from start to finish.
- Make “thinking” a practice. Schedule time to think and reflect. Your creativity and ability to imagine stories just may depend on it.
Read more about Carr’s ideas at his website and in his book, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains.