Insights in the Age of Distraction
Micène Fontaine, February 19, 2020
February. Love is in the air, or is it the smell of canned foods?
Did you know that in the US alone, the month of February is claimed by over 12 causes ranging from the worthy Black History Month to - you guessed it - Canned Food Month (apparently, it’s a thing). In addition to that, over 70 holidays will be celebrated, but 2 caught my attention: National Margarita Day (need I say more) and International World Thinking Day. Both are celebrated on February 22, which seems a bit incompatible if you ask me, but I digress.
These days, our insights and attention are the most valuable currency, yet we set very little time aside for the deep thinking that leads to insights. We also often lose the fight against the urge to surrender our attention to random distractions. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard work, which is why our brains are wired to avoid it and why you should be on the lookout for opportunities to surrender your attention to activities that nurture thinking. It could be as simple as a 15-minute walk in nature, choosing to watch a random TED talk, or participating in our "Change by Design" series. Overachievers could decide to block time on their weekly calendar for deep thinking. Lastly, and this one is biased, but put some thoughts into how you surrender your time to earn CEUs. For over 20 years now, I have failed to understand how the promise of a stale sandwich and mind-numbing sales speech was somehow enticing design professionals to surrender at least one hour of their time to be sold to. I get that most of these “Lunch and Learn” are free, but the real questions are: What is their value? What are you surrendering your time and attention in exchange for? Are you there connecting dots, or are you there merely to collect CEUs? In which case are you there at all?
At any rate, in the spirit of Valentine’s day, love yourself well. Be gentle with yourself. It’s hard work - and the odds are against us - but even tiny tweaks in how you choose to surrender your time will feed your brain in unexpected ways, and that is what leads to insights.
And, in the spirit of International World Thinking Day, think ahead, that's what's key :-)