Life coach and author Tony Schwartz’s widely read New York Times article “Addicted to Distraction” began with a realization that he had slipped into a period where he was managing his life very poorly. So, he started on an “irrationally ambitious” plan to cut down on excessive diet soda, alcohol, bad eating habits and web and email distractions during the day.
Through great determination, Schwartz fixed nearly everything he wanted to accomplish, primarily better diet and more exercise, but failed completely in one behavior – cutting back on time on the internet. As Cal Newport notes, there is something serious going on when Schwartz, who has built a career around helping people reach his full potential, finds it easier to kick off sugar, alcohol and sloth than his compulsive internet habit.
There isn’t a prescribed solution here but, it is clear, that it is a call for all of us to examine the nature of our internet behavior and experiment with solutions that suit our style this year. Tony Schwartz shares a few in the article (here) and I, for one, have found enormous value from not allowing my mobile phone in our bedroom after 8pm.
Schwartz recalled a powerful story about a man and his 4 or 5 year old daughter at a family restaurant – “Almost immediately, the man turned this attention to his phone. Meanwhile, his daughter was a whirlwind of energy and restlessness…[attempting many things] to get her father’s attention…she didn’t succeed and after a while, she glumly gave up.
The silence felt deafening.”