We sleep less. We stress more. We go outside less. We find it harder to relax. We are getting fatter. We communicate less with real people. iPhone thumb is an actual condition. Most importantly, our generation is not reaching its full potential as our attention is relentlessly chopped in half by technology. Now, there's an ever-growing movement to reclaim life from the dull, artificial glow of our devices. It's time to Escape The Screens.
It was New Year's Day, and I was walking in West London. In front of me there was a crisp, beautiful winter sunset, the sky aflame on the first day of the year.
I fought the urge to reach for my phone. My hand hovered above my pocket, desperate to pull out my shiny device of delights. (I still maintain that sunset would have made a wonderful instagram photo. Espcially if I'd used the Lo-Fi filter, goddamit. And I could have emailed it to my friends too. Or tweeted it. Or even put it on Linked In. No, that would be a step too far.)
Somehow, I resisted. The device stayed in my pocket.. And January 1st 2013 became my Day 1 of Escaping The Screens.
Technology now puts us in a relentless state of continuous partial attention. Our focus is constantly divided by the rich flow of information on offer on our screens. Many of us live in a permanent state of techno-anxiety. We are unable to think clearly, sleep deeply, and most of us don't reach our full potential. Why? Because our generation is becoming one that just can't think deeply enough any more. Do you think Mozart would have come up with his 626 compositions if he'd had an iPhone? Of course not, he'd have been too busy getting on to the next level of Angry Birds.
We have allowed the screens to take over, so now it's finally time. We are here to reclaim life from the dull, artificial glow of the devices that invade our world. You want to live a rich, fulfilled life? You're ready to Escape The Screens.
The good news is you don't need to permanently give up your beloved plasma or your smartphone. (Which is lucky as you may well be reading this on one now). Your work will never suffer. You'll always be in touch if you need to be. In fact your work, your life and your health will benefit beyond measure as you free up small but significant chunks of time and attention to focus on the things that matter. Oh, and if you've got kids, we'll help them to escape the screens too.
Using the simple rules I've been following ever since that January day, technology will become your friend - it will help you but not rule you. You'll undoubtedly be more productive, and your iPhone thumb might not hurt anymore. Read on, and join a huge movement of others who are escaping the screens, dragging themselves into the present, starting to live up to their potential, and noticing sunsets.
SECTION ONE: The way its done.
- The problem.
- Continuous Partial Attention and what that means.
- Living in the moment really does make you happier.
- How to Escape The Screens. (The two big rules.)
- The technology that helps us, not rules us.
- How to make sure you actually Escape The Screens (rather than just read this book and forget about it).
- How great minds in history created so much good stuff.
- The Tchaikovsky Creativity Strategy.
- The Nick Faldo way to becoming better at sport.
- What green fingers have to do with success.
- Early starts and late nights.
- What to do with all the extra time you've created.
- What happens if you 'fall off the wagon'.
SECTION TWO: The benefits.
- Be happier.
- Be healthier.
- Be more creative.
- Sleep better.
- Relax easier.
- Engage more with actual, real people.
- Make clearer, quicker decisions.
- Be less likely to offend with a curt email that “wasn’t meant quite like that”.
- Notice things more.
- Stay in the moment.
- Think – actually think – more deeply.
- Take more exercise.
- Get rid of your ‘iPhone Thumb’.
- Avoid seeing your friend Dave’s Facebook post about what he had for breakfast today