Social Media Sabbatical (SMS): Day 4 – 04 Aug 18 – Phone Usage/”Attention Residue”

Ahh yes…Saturday greetings. Hope yours is going or went well. I got up later than I wanted to (if you want to call 8:30 am late). Getting up no later than 7am on a Saturday (a free one, where I don’t have to go choir musicians rehearsal at 8 am), is what I like to do because it seems like I get more out of the day. My body this morning, on the other hand, thought differently. In any event, I got up, with my phone by my bedside, and realized and remembered that I deleted the Facebook and Instagram apps – which means that there is nothing to scroll through as I used to do so many mornings before even getting ready for the day. The Twitter app, however, I still had on my phone for the convenience of posting my #100DaysOfCode status.

I went downstairs, made breakfast (omlettes) and proceed to eat and decided to click on the Medium app to see if there were any interesting stories to read. Once again, ironically, I came across this one: The Benefits of Unplugging and Choosing To Be Present. Of course, this was a must read. Yeah, I know, there are plenty of similar stories out there on this very topic…I get it, but I still choose to read each one I come across, just in case there is a new perspective not formerly mentioned. What I found reiterated in this story is this (because it walked right down my street):

“For everyone else who finds themselves pulling out their phone when they have a free fifteen seconds, this was eye-opening. It seemed as if every free moment, I’d reach into my pocket looking for a convenient distraction. And sacrifice any opportunity for deep reflection. In the words of Dr. Daniel Levitin:

“Every time you shift your attention from one thing to another, the brain has to engage a neurochemical switch that uses up nutrients in the brain to accomplish that. So if you’re attempting to multitask, you know, doing four or five things at once, you’re not actually doing four or five things at once, because the brain doesn’t work that way. Instead, you’re rapidly shifting from one thing to the next, depleting neural resources as you go.”

I say reiterated because earlier this year, I read one of the most compelling (to me) books on productivity that I’ve come across – “Deep Work” by Cal Newport. I turned my friend, Calandra Branch on to this book as well She read it and can attest to it’s greatness. In this book, Cal mentioned the same thing but in slightly greater detail. In Chapter 1, he writes about what scientists believe the foundation of why deliberate practice works – myelin.

“Myelin is a layer of fatty tissue that grows around neurons, acting like an insulator that allows the cells to fire faster and cleaner…This new science of performance argues that you get better at a skill as you cevelop more myelin around the relevant brain neurons, allowing the corresponding circuit to fire more effortlessly and effectively, To be great at something is to be well myelinated…it provides a neurological foundation for why deliberate practice works. By focusing intensely on a specific skill, your forcing the specific relevant circuit to fire, again and again, in isolation…The reason, therefore, why it;s important to focus intensely on the task at hand while avoiding distraction is because this the only way to isolate the relevant neural circuit enough to trigger useful myelin.”

Whether you believe in this neurological correlation or not, I happen to believe its true by experience (he also writes about “attention residue” – when multitask, there’s a “residue” from the previous task that will lessen the attention/focus you will spend on your current task. The key is (as illogical as it may seem to some, is to avoid the facade of multitask (seemingly getting more things done in less time( and create time blocks to do focused work in sequence. Intense focus during a block of time leads to great productivity.

The whole reaching for the phone thing in any bit of free time applies to me. Thinking I was using that time to constantly learn more in my free time is a logical thought, but truth be told, more of that free time (small as it may have been at times) I found myself scrolling and participating in social media. For that reason, this morning, I deleted Twitter from my phone as well.

As a result, what I REALLY noticed in day 4, is that I had less reason to want to carry my phone around with me. It made me realize that it was JUST the social media apps on there, but the need to want to use the phone to connect virtually anywhere besides social media. It was a necessary and revealing thought. Today the phone was with me less and less. As for Twitter, I’l post my coding status via computer only.

I’m learning….

Thanks for the read…
Fresh!