Helping get the focus you need

I have recently moved house, as everyone knows, moving house is a tortuous process.

On top of all the usual problems BT screwed up the transferring internet and telephone line to the new house ending up in two engineers turning up on the same day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon to fit the same line. The 2nd BT engineer told me this kind of mess up is perfectly normal in his organisation.

This caused me to be left me without internet to my home office for two weeks. Which is extremely frustrating, however there are some very interesting lessons to be learned from this.

Focus is an increasingly important skill in this day of massively delivered media.

I am a writer who developed his craft before the Internet, a time when you physically had to travel hundreds of miles to a different physical location to do a bit of research. Now most research can be done with a few clicks and a fast connection.

Because of this I am hard wired to suck in as much information as possible, as in those days I wouldn’t know when I would have access to it again. But now, such information does not need to be stuck in my head as I can access it all online.

So when offered as much data as I can eat my default is to pull in too much noise and not enough signal when online.

Also, I developed the habit of collecting as many books and magazines as possible, building up a decent library of research material. Most people would not need to keep the magazine about hydraulics in advanced construction vehicles, but I needed to keep information I might need for an article in the future.

And so the books piled up, and so did the magazines. For quite some time 90% of my possessions in terms of mass and wealth was tied up in information. Obviously when you move you audit and chuck out what you don’t need.

What I have figured out is that I don’t need most of my books and magazines. There are books that have emotional value, but from a pure informational delivery system the paper version is dysfunctional and no longer serves its primary objective that is the efficient delivery of information.

Of course my Kindle and iPad Newstand collection was a lot easier to move. Which makes me think that such comparison would make great linkbait or a funky infographic on the amount of carbon that is produced from transporting your books each time you move house.

I see paper books as more art and emotion than functional these days. They will always exist because a printed page has something a digital page never will.

However, there is a massive problem that digital information and the Internet brings, which is making the act of focus increasingly more difficult.

I confess, I am a personality type that makes focussing on one thing at a time difficult, this helps somewhat in coming up with interesting and different content ideas, but tricky when it comes to production and implementation of those ideas.

The point is, I have found the benefit of no direct Internet access to be an increased focus in what is important. It helps or rather forces you to concentrate on what is important when schlepping to the local caffeine delivery point, mine is Coffee 108 in the Artisan Quarter of Truro.

You stop being distracted by all the bright, shiny, interesting stuff that bombards you whilst online because you simply do not have the time to ingest them.

Now I have my dual 28 inch monitors hooked up to a powerful PC delivering 47 Megabits per second of pure distraction. The aim now is to keep the focus and work on time management.

Lesson has been learned and hopefully writing this has helped in setting it in concrete.

Or at least, digital concrete.