Our Fragmented Attention

There’s a terrific piece in the NY Times today about how continually logging in and checking our email and cellphones divides our attention and makes it harder to focus http://tinyurl.com/25qrzj3. I was particularly interested because the author makes the point that one of the most disruptive consequences of our obsession with our gadgets is that it undermines our ability to be fully present, in tune with the moment we are inhabiting.

I explored this territory in one of my earlier books, Thriving in 24/7: Six Strategies for Taming the New World of Work. In that research, I really tried to dig down into the importance of being fully present, especially for those who seek to assume leadership roles. I also explored how being in two places at once cuts us off from being able to understand who we are and who we can be in the world.

Now one of my own favorite writers, the Jesuit priest James Martin, is noting the negative impact of technology on our capacity to pray http://tinyurl.com/25qrzj3. Prayer, Martin points out, provides us with a particularly powerful way to be fully present to what the universe—however we wish to conceive it—wants to say to us—to be in conversation with the divine. This capacity is one of the most precious human resources available to us. So when we make the decision to constantly be what feels to us “in touch,” we are actually deciding to be out of touch on some level!