Incite by Design

Caustic visions and shared thoughts on design, marketing, creativity, philanthropy, pop culture and business philosophy by Toronto design firm, Ricksticks Inc.

2005-05-04

When You Have to Find a Washroom Just to Think

Sometimes at the office I feel like a wild dog trapped in a steel cage. You know the feeling. The phones are ringing, the emails are pouring in, and everybody wants something.

Your eyes drift over to he window and there it is - sky, wind, freedom.

But according to Cliff's beyond bullets succinct post, the problem we face today is information overload and its impact on our ability to think.

It seems we cannot escape the amount of who, what, when, where, why that bombards our brains - too quick for those synapses at times - on a moment by moment basis.

Information Overload Makes You Dumb

One recent study at Kansas State University reported that the MTV-inspired scrolling tickers and headlines on television screens reduced the ability of people to remember information by 10 percentage points.

Another study reported that people who were bombarded by email and phone calls suffered an IQ drop of 10 points - double the drop in IQ that has been attributed to marijuana.

The smarter solution? Strip away the distractions and aim for simplicity.

I agree with Cliff. That's why I do not own a cell phone.

It's no coincidence that we have those "AHA!" moments in the middle of the night, in the shower, or while driving. We are finally able to process when the screaming of information is dulled.

The last place a person can expect to do some creative thinking is in the office - precisely where we should be doing our creative thinking.

For me, some of the following have been helpful in reducing info-saturation:

1. Set specific times to check email. Close Outlook and resist the urge to check your email during unspecified times.
2. Go for a 10 minute walk. I have been having a great discussion with Dave Pollard about the power of just being outside, in silence, surrounded by nature. You don't need a woods, either. A local park or a wooded street would do.
3. Turn off all unnecessary ringers and noisemakers. (yes, even the radio)
4. If you can, ask others to give you quiet time for the morning or afternoon, some uninterrupted time to complete a project.
5. Share a real, face-to-face conversation. This can be incredibly grounding if you've been on the phone and email all day.

It really is about the choices you make. Not only does simplifying your life improve levels of stress, it also improves your ability to think...and improves health, relationships, etc, etc.

Compels you to stop and pause for a moment, doesn't it?
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