A disturbing report.
A Reuters story picked up by Wired last month documents something very disturbing: as our lives have grown more connected, more technologically advanced, we are getting less done.
According to the study quoted, in 1994 we got about 3/4s of our work done in a workday. Last year, that was down to 2/3s and heading south rapidly. Meanwhile, we are spending more and more hours at work in front of our computers. Ten plus years ago, 82 percent of the people polled felt that they at least got half their daily planned work done; that’s now down to 51 percent.
What’s going on here?
I’d submit there’s actually a couple of different things going on:
- First, the more connected you are, the more interrupted and interrupt-driven you become. It gets harder and harder to focus and concentrate on getting one thing done at a time.
- Second, the balance point between consuming information and producing it has shifted so far over to the consuming side we have hardly any “processing cycles” left to work with. Consuming information is not the same as thinking, and the distinction is getting lost in the tsunami of info we are trying to cope with.
- Third, we keep trying to put out the fire with gasoline. We add more and more connections, information, technology – from Skype to RSS feeds to iPods, in an attempt to somehow catch up.
Now don’t get me wrong: I’m a programmer and writer by trade, a totally connected, technology driven kind of guy. Nobody is gone to take away my iPod! But there has to be an alternative to living like a rat in a high tech cage other than living in a cave.
I think part of that answer needs to be new kinds of software/web site/hardware that confronts this problem head on. But I also think we need more and better mental tools for dealing with an info-environment that is changing faster than we can adapt to.
The question is, besides Getting Things Done, where are those mental tools? No answers here and now, but I hope to broaden this blog a bit in the coming weeks and months to delve into this. And I welcome any and all suggestions you have!