Kojo Nnamdi, from the local NPR affiliate WAMU, recently interviewed New York Times reporter Matt Richtel about the effect of using computers and other devices regularly.
The show, which I listened in the background while driving and navigating highways the other day, discussed our ability to multi-task and think. I was struck by the importance of boredom to allow our brains to create something new and, perhaps most importantly, to truly learn and retain something that we recently heard.
It is difficult for us to be still in our age of doing too many things at once. I encourage you, as a sort of pre-writing prompt, to sit and think today for at least a few minutes. Don’t check your email while you are doing it; wait to Tweet about it after you finish. Keep your body still. Don’t wander around the house putting things away or start cutting up vegetables for dinner. Just sit somewhere comfortable and let your mind wander.
You aren’t being lazy or procrastinating by sitting still. Rather, you are taking care of yourself and your mind. Perhaps, you are even pre-writing. Give yourself permission to be still.
Afterwards, you might feel refreshed and ready to start a new project. Perhaps you have the beginning of a new poem or a line that would help an older poem to come back to life. Now you are ready to go back to your day and write.
Here is the brief description of the show, which you can listen to here:
Every day Americans navigate a torrent of data. We field a barrage of work and personal emails. We update our status and check on our friends. We surf across dozens of websites. Most of us are now expert multitaskers, but some worry we're creating a generation unable to focus on specific tasks. We speak with a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, who is exploring whether technology is rewiring our brains.
For more, you’ll enjoy this series of New York Times articles, “Your Brain on Computers.”
I welcome your comments below.