Cal Newport is a professor of computer science at Georgetown University and author of six books ranging from study skills tips for high school and college students to the role intense focus plays in producing great work, and most recently, the New York Times bestseller Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World. In this 2 ½ minute video interview with Dan Pink, Newport shares three tips to prevent our phones from becoming a distraction.
While I know very few adults my age or younger who would not benefit from these tips, the evidence is piling up that technological distractions—along with the accompanying social pressures—are having significantly detrimental effects on teens in the form of diminished attention spans, altered cognitive development, and increased rates of depression and anxiety.
I can imagine people of all ages dismissing some or all of the tips as being impractical or even impossible. But the truth is that constant connectivity is a comparatively new expectation. It wasn’t all that long ago that everyone somehow found a way to survive being unreachable unless they were near a landline. I won’t call for a return to those days as I think it’s safe to say the world has changed. But with the possible exception of those for whom being unreachable could carry serious or tragic implications, just about everyone in the developed world with the means to own a smartphone could probably benefit from allowing it to distract you a little less often.