In Defense of Distraction Twitter, Adderall, lifehacking, mindful jogging, power browsing, Obama’s BlackBerry, and the benefits of overstimulation.

The Benefits of Distraction and Overstimulation -- New York Magazine

One of the weaknesses of lifehacking as a weapon in the war against distraction, Mann admits, is that it tends to become extremely distracting. You can spend solid days reading reviews of filing techniques and organizational software. “On the web, there’s a certain kind of encouragement to never ask yourself how much information you really need,” he says. “But when I get to the point where I’m seeking advice twelve hours a day on how to take a nap, or what kind of notebook to buy, I’m so far off the idea of lifehacks that it’s indistinguishable from where we started. There are a lot of people out there that find this a very sticky idea, and there’s very little advice right now to tell them that the only thing to do is action, and everything else is horseshit. My wife reminds me sometimes: ‘You have all the information you need to do something right now.’ ” ...

“Where you allow your attention to go ultimately says more about you as a human being than anything that you put in your mission statement,” he continues. “It’s an indisputable receipt for your existence. And if you allow that to be squandered by other people who are as bored as you are, it’s gonna say a lot about who you are as a person.” ...

This sort of free-associative wandering is essential to the creative process; one moment of judicious unmindfulness can inspire thousands of hours of mindfulness.

Interesting piece at the New Yorker, take the time out to read it all the way through. Here are a few choice bits that got my brain a firing.

One of the key factors left out though is the sheer luxury in being able to take the time out of your day to focus on one particular task. I would say our lives have become fragmented because of technology. If you do not respond to those emails, Facebook notices or text messages people will assume something is wrong. There is a perceived sleight to a person if you do not reply to them. A social faux pas. And I would argue that we are more socially linked then ever before in history. One would wake up and have no clue what others were up too. Now I wake up to hourly updates!

Not very many of us today can afford to turn off email, not send out a quick reply, not read the trade blogs to keep up on the latest tech / trends. Not follow Facebook / Twitter / Linkedin to see what colleagues are doing. To be able to just focus on your work would be a amazing luxury.

Maybe someday I'll have the means, but for now, it's pots of coffee and endless information gathering.