Much research tells us that heavy internet use can rewire our brains, not necessarily for the better.
Distractions abound and we follow them. Thoughts go "galloping off in all directions". Multitasking becomes a curse. Concentration and focus atrophy. Creativity suffers. Neural pathways turn into spaghetti.
I'm not about to abandon using the internet and nor are you. But I reckon brain-danger deserves serious attention. Here are a few tricks I'm using to protect my lovely little brain. Silly acronyms may work as memory joggers, or confuse me further.
- TOTV: Turn off the TV. In New Zealand, TV is becoming more and more and more bitsy. Watching TV is an excruciatingly fragmented experience. Ads, previews, running headlines, breaking news. It's not good. Yay for DVDs.
- ROBAW: Read a book a week. Yay for the absorbing, linear, focused experience of reading a book. The pleasure of reading books increases as we become more internet-focused. Suggestions below.
- AWOTH: Alerts—wot's the hurry? You could be receiving alerts for emails, texts, Tweets, blogs, investments, news and software updates. They demand your attention, now. Right now. But why? Who's controlling your workflow, you or them? Many people advise checking email only a few set times a day. Do the same for other alerts, or all jobs are interrupted.
- TEFT: Tech-free time. You know it but do you do it? Turn off the mobile phone and keep away from all computers during meals, conversations, visits, events, meetings, even home movies.
- DOTAT: Do one thing at a time. This is the key. The challenge. It's not easy. Mini-meditation helps: even one minute spent doing only one thing, thinking only about that thing, can benefit us.
- Do one thing (DOT). OK, start by doing just one thing in this list. Do it for 3 weeks. Then it becomes a habit... don't stop!