June 7th 2011 18:24
My Take: The Writer's Brain, Prime Real Estate
As writers, our brains are prime real estate! Yet, there are definite limits to how many thoughts, ideas, tasks, projects, diversions, and pieces of trivia we can cram into our minds at any given time. (Why do we so easily forget that? Probably because we're so distracted most of the time that we simply don't notice!)
The Internet definitely contributes to the serious cases of information overload that plague us today. Let's face it, the Internet is addictive, plain and simple. Anything and everything we could ever want or need to know is literally at our fingertips 24/7, 365 days a year -- whether we need it or not. Talk about a recipe for distraction, wheel-spinning, and lack of productivity. As helpful as the Web can be when we have critical research to complete for a writing project (and when we discipline ourselves to stay on track with that research), that's just how detrimental it can be when we let our cyber surfing get out of hand.
The Need to Guard Our Minds
We writers need to guard our minds, protect our imaginations, defend our creativity, our powers of reflection, contemplation, visualization, and analysis. Our ability to think deeply is seriously compromised when we flit from site to site, topic to topic, news story to news story, blog to blog. To be sure, there are times when it's fine to do these things -- as long as we're the ones in control.
Jill's Take on This Critical Issue
Here's a wonderful article on the above topic by Jill Konrath that I strongly suspect you will be able to relate to every bit as much as I did from the moment I began reading. Let's do our best to heed Jill's advice and give our severely overburdened brains a break!
The Year I Lost My Brain - And How I Got It Back
It started exactly 12 months ago, right after SNAP Selling came out. At first I didn't recognized the symptoms, but in retrospect, they were there.
I was crazy-busy, running from one "must do" activity to the next. My inbox overflowed. I was constantly online, answering emails, tweeting, blogging, whatever.
Time evaporated before my eyes. At the end of the day, my endless To Do list was even longer. I'd accomplished virtually nothing, yet I'd worked the entire day.
Awash in this swirl of scattered activities, my primary goal was to stay afloat.
On my daily walks, I listened to podcasts and interviews. In the evenings, I plopped in front of the TV, surrounded by my computer, iPhone and iPad. Never disconnected, constantly consuming an endless supply of media.
Then I got hooked on a few computer games. These mindless diversions, my guilty little pleasures, filled up what was left of my free time. Hah! Did I say free time? There was none.
Clearly, this was no way to live. It was an existence, not a life. But things were really much worse.
I was actually losing my mind.
Please don't think I'm crazy. The truth is, if what I described sounds even remotely similar to your life, you're losing your mind too.
It's actually a function of our constant online flitting. There's a ton of research now showing that the internet is actually changing our brain. In short, we're losing our ability to:
* Concentrate: The more we're online, the more scatterbrained we become. We scan, but don't think - and certainly not deeply. And, we're forgetful. Yet we crave more stimuli and keep clicking away.
* Create: When we're caught in this morass, we can't come up with new ideas and rich insights. With our brains are on overload, they're stuck at a low-level of processing.
I felt all of this. I was spinning in place, going nowhere in a constantly distracted state. I even tried to be more productive, but that didn't work either.
Then I finally got away from it all - to a place where I couldn't be reached by phone and had minimal internet access. At first, I was twitchy. Really twitchy. (Going through withdrawal is tough.)
Amazingly, within two days my brain started coming back.
Creative thoughts popped into my mind. Fun ideas emerged. Fresh perspectives surfaced. I wrote everything down so I wouldn't forget - and also to free up my brain to do more important things.
And, since I like how I'm feeling a whole lot more now than I did before, here's the commitment I made to myself:
* I will limit my internet time to 3 hours per day. I refuse to let the internet destroy my creativity and problem-solving capacity.
* I will be unreachable for at least one hour daily. To do my job effectively, I need to think. I can't think when I don't protect my time.
* I will always have one fun project I'm working on. That's what keeps me alive.
* I will stay focused on the activity I'm on. This may be the hardest of all since I'm so used to allowing distractions. I can't tell you how many urges I fought off while writing this article.
Maybe you haven't lost your mind yet. If that's the case, make sure you protect it at all costs.
But if you're at all like me, your brain has already been severely impacted. I urge you to consider reclaiming it. The truth is, it's the key to your personal and professional success.
Jill Konrath is an internationally-recognized speaker & bestselling author of SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies. She helps sellers land new accounts and speed up sales cycles. To get four free sales-accelerating tools, visit www.snapselling.com.
What are your thoughts on this critical topic? In what ways can you relate to Jill's story? Care to share any solutions that have worked for you?
To your sanity,
The above article was reprinted with permission.
This is not a sponsored post.