April 14, 2011
Last time I wrote about how the vast proportion of our brain is dedicated to unconscious processing and when we allow ourselves to put things on the back burner, we tap into this well spring of creative thinking and come up with our best ideas. Wonderful, right? Yes, but without our realizing it, technology is now interfering with this amazing capacity of our brains.
Here’s how: all the data and information we are receiving from emails, twitter, texts, tv, radio, books, magazines, etc. overwhelms the brain and interferes with its ability to see the big picture and recognize the pattern in all the clutter. And it’s not just the amount of information, but the rate it’s now coming in that interferes. It trains the brain to favor the fast and urgent over the important and right. We keep searching for more information rather than stopping and noticing how it fits together and what is actually relevant. As a result, we lose the ability to see the forest for the trees and make wise choices in our work and personal lives.
So what’s a brain to do? Some suggestions from my wise friend Dawna Markova who alerted me to this research:
- Think through important issues first thing in the day before your brain is tired from all the input.
- Deal with emails and texts in batches rather than intermittently.
- Regenerate the brain’s energy through exercise, rest, “relaxing.”
And one of my own: