Hush people, I need to be brilliant

Our Operations Director, Charlie, urges you disconnect to connect.

Today we live in an ASAP culture. Constant beeps of interruption needing attention, wanting a response. We’ve gone from letters and phone calls to desktop email and simple text messaging to amplification by in-your-pocket devices that will feed news and distraction to us instantly, constantly, wherever we are. Then up a level again to multi-participation platforms of discussion such as WhatsApp, bulking the dings of communication in our pockets 100-fold. Feeling stressed yet?

Much has been written about this, and don’t get me wrong the ASAP culture has spawned some great life improvers; shopping desk-to-door, Uber and of course email and WhatsApp. But ironically many of these ‘life improvers’ created to fulfil our ever-increasing need for speed are the root cause of our time demise.

A recent report by digital consumer insight agency GlobalWebIndex found the average social media user now spends 2 hours and 22 minutes on social platforms every day, up from 1 hour 30 minutes in 2012. Or put another way, 1/7 of our daily waking hours. And that doesn’t even include text messaging or emails.

Increasingly we don’t have enough time to get everything done. And why? Because these platforms designed to connect us are the curators of our time loss. Our brain drain. The constant distraction from deep thinking to the promotion of off-the-cuff and not getting brilliant stuff done.

And brilliant stuff is the point here. I have the enviable (and sometimes what feels like unenviable) position of having two beautiful young children and a business to run. And these three wonderful things come with many, many, dings of communication. And well they should. My children need my time, our business needs my time (and they are not mutually exclusive hence the conundrum). Not rushed, just enough, scraping-the-surface responses but focused, loving, forward thinking, attention. Yet the ASAP culture and connection overload can prevent the brilliant stuff. 

This is a business post so I’m not going to bore you with my domestic communication challenges. Instead to focus on deep thinking and the vital role it plays for everyone in business, in innovation. 

If we are so time strapped we only have time to scratch the surface, where does great innovation happen? How do we have time to think about the future against immediate business needs when they are amplified tenfold by ‘digital chat’?

As business leaders, parents and friends we must start respecting our most precious commodity. Not just feed the inventors who vie for our money in making ‘communication easier’ and ‘creating more time’ because they are not. Take yourself off Facebook, WhatsApp, Slack …. Fill in these dots with things that drive you crazy because we are all thinking it. And reclaim deep thinking time. 

Our business is creative and creative thinkers need space. I’ve taken this week to turn off all digital devices and reclaim focus. For business, it’s been my most brilliant week of the year. And my kids and friendships are still fine too.