Are you a digital economy monk?
- You wake up at an unearthly hour and after extended sessions of meditation, body conditioning and an unadulterated breakfast you are ready to face what is still a very long day.
- You wake up at a reasonable hour and after an extended session of bickering with family members whilst half watching the TV you consume a breakfast that in some laboratory was once considered a breakthrough in synthetic food science. You then set off with the grim resolve of Ernest Shackleton on your daily commute in the hope of arriving on time for your first meeting, which as usual has little bearing on your agenda.
The difference in these scenarios is the amount of mental bandwidth consumed before your real work gets underway. The first scenario is essentially a set of brain power enhancing rituals that are completed almost without thought. The second is a sequence of mental bandwidth raids, whereby you start your workday mentally exhausted.
Now let’s move to the workplace. How much of your activity is ritualised and how much of it involves bandwidth erosion? The extent to which you feel exhausted at the end of the day and the extent to which you have completed the tasks you set out to do are a good measure.
One of the side effects of the digital economy is the myriad of ways in which your attention can be diverted away from what you really need to do. This is why we also hear mention of the attention economy. Those that can acquire the most attention from others win.
The upside is that some distractions provide insights you wouldn’t have acquired if you stuck to the plan. So it is not all bad. However I believe that to thrive in the digital economy one needs to have the discipline of a monk in order to ensure your mental bandwidth is used for your purposes rather than given freely to those with greater mental discipline.