My family and I recently took a once-in-a-lifetime vacation. Upon arrival at our destination, I turned off my smartphone and placed it in the safe. Why the safe? Not for security reasons, but because I wanted to make it difficult to access. I unplugged completely. The first day was admittedly challenging, but I quickly adjusted to the wonderfully freeing experience of being disconnected 24/7.
Everything fell into place upon my return home when I came across Alex Soojung-Kim Pang’s book The Distraction Addiction. Pang talks about the need for contemplative computing – a “promise that you can construct a healthier, more balanced relationship with information technology.”
- is a blend of science and philosophy
- combines techniques for managing your attention and mind
- shows you how your mind and body interact with computers
- shows you how your attention and creativity are influenced by technology
- gives you the tools to redesign your relationships with devices and the Internet to make them work better for you.
Pang identifies eight principles of contemplative computing:
- Being human
- Being calm
- Being mindful
- Making conscious decisions
- Extending your abilities
- Seeking flow
- Using technologies that engage you with the world
- Using/Abstaining from technologies in ways that are restorative and renew your capacity for attention.
Health and productivity tip
The next time you feel yourself being sucked into the vortex of your digital life, take a step back and see what changes you can make to improve the balance of being present vs. being absorbed by technology.
From my perspective, if contemplative computing can deliver on its promises if I keep up my side of the bargain, then I am all for it.