Your Brain on Computers, or How to Overlook a Big Money Offer to Buy Your Start-up

                  More is not always better                    photo by Yutaka Tsutano

Never confuse activity with accomplishment.” – John Wooden, Two-time NBA Hall of Famer.

One of the biggest complaints about the Information Age with its constant connectivity and multiple sources of data is that our attention span is getting shorter, our thinking is getting shallower and our critical thinking and problem solving abilities have been short-circuited. Creativity and original thinking are not possible at the speed of net connectivity.

Do you remember the TV ad “This is Your Brain on Drugs,” showing a skillet with a well-fried egg?  The New York Times had a recent article “Your Brain on Computers” with an excellent video that tracked the eye movements of entrepreneur Kord Campbell on the two out of three computer monitors he had up and running. (As you know – where your eyes go, your brain follows.)  Watching his gaze move over two computer screens you notice that he spends less than a second on each thing he looks at. The longest he spent on any one activity was when he was scrolling through his email inbox – about six seconds. There is no way he could be productive or do any original thinking or problem-solving. He could only be scanning the words on his screens. This is how Kord Campbell overlooked an important email offer to buy his internet start-up company– for twelve days!

To see the video click here To start the video click on the “video” box in the top left area of the screen at “See Mr. Campbell in action from his own perspective”

If this video reminds you of you here are some tips:

  • Close down the software you do not need to focus on in the moment. That means close your email and de-activate your email alert.
  • Check you email no more than once an hour. If it is really important they will call you.
  • Minimize everything else, except the document you are working on.

You will be amazed at how much work you accomplish when you set up your computer to support focused work.

If the video reminds you of someone you know – forward this blog to them. Friends don’t let friends fry their brains.

What do you think about multiple computer screens for work. Does it help you work better?  Please submit your comments!

Next blog post: John Cleese (yes the venerable Python) talking about what you need to do with your time and space to be really creative or do original thinking.