On Turning the Computer Off

September 10, 2010

Turn the computer off?  “Impossible”, you say.  And my emotional response is to agree.  I’ve a dear friend in the hospital, and I may get e-mails that need to be relayed. There may be an inquiry about the apartment we’re renting, a prospect who wants my coaching or consulting, a client who needs help in a hurry.  I need to stay tuned to that information stream!

Or, do I?  Will that information wait 30 minutes, or 60, or 90?  Can I work on my time frame?

With the computer on, I tend to respond, and pay attention to what might come, even as I’m addressing the opportunities or challenges that are already here.  My attention, and my creativity, are diverted from the most immediate task at hand.

I’m not alone.  I see this with business colleagues around the globe. Sitting in front of our computers, we may be connected, but too often we’re not focused on the real questions, the deeper issues. We’re probably not  our best creative selves.

Neuroscientists tell us that our brains need quiet time to rearrange and reorganize information we’ve taken in. When we’re permanently connected to an on-line data stream, that time just doesn’t happen.

What’s the prescription?  Spend some time sitting under a tree, or on a rock by a stream, or even in a quiet room with no electronics.  Think, plan, envision, create, imagine.  Write with a pencil, and don’t worry about the font or margins.  In fact, don’t worry at all.  Just be present in the quiet space.  With practice, you can even do it in a room with computers, iPhones, and other electronic devices present.

One Response to “On Turning the Computer Off”

  1. constance williamson said

    Arthur, I love this post. I have to literally be dragged kicking and screaming from my computer in order to go to sleep at night. I take my laptop to bed and have trouble putting it down. There is always one more thing I have to tend to. Your post made me realize there will always be just one more thing. Time to go to bed.

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