Recently I watched a video by a man named Owen Cook about the concept of engagement versus attachment. In essence, he made the argument that finding fulfillment comes through a balance of being very engaged in the process you are in without being attached to the outcome of that process.
It is a paradox, but it brings up an even deeper question about modern society and the culture we have around our engagement. Since the advent of modern technology, such as smart phones, social media, and computers, it has grown increasingly difficult for people to maintain engagement on the things that truly matter.
A recent study of the United States workforce showed that 51% of employees are "not engaged" in their work and 17.5% are "actively disengaged". These numbers show just how far we have to come in order to make consciousness shifts in our society.
How Engagement Has Wavered
Humans have not gotten worse about their engagement over time. There is no devolution going on, but there are technological factors at play that are changing how we interact with the world. The human attention span is already short, but today social media and smart phones make it even shorter.
Most people cannot pay attention to what they are doing without checking their phone, seeing the latest message they have received, or scrolling through a Facebook feed. If you go to a park you may see a sickening display of friends who are together in physical presence, but far apart as far as their brains are concerned.
In Cal Newport's latest book "Deep Work" he mentions how far we have come as a society from the days of great writers like Thoreau and Emerson. We cannot focus deeply on our mental tasks because we are faced with a constant bombardment of messages and texts that we cannot escape.
Reversing the Engagement Trend
The good thing for you and I is that we can utilize this flaw of the masses to our advantage. When the entire world is full of distracted and unengaged individuals, it is easier than ever to stand out from the crowd. Here are a few ways you can do that.
#1: Build deep work into your routine - the reason waking up early or going to bed in the wee hours of the morning is so helpful is because it allows you to carve out time to do work where nobody else is distracting or bothering you.
This is a rarity these days, but building it into your routine can do wonders. Many of the top performers wake up early or do their best work very late at night.
#2: Turn your phone on airplane mode - every night before I go to bed, I turn my phone on airplane mode. Not only do I want to avoid the cell phone radiation, but I also want to avoid getting any texts or emails overnight that I would feel compelled to deal with in the morning. This is a distraction car accident lawyer, Chris Stoy often avoids as well. He told me "if I wake up at 4:30 a.m., that means I have to go to bed around 9 p.m. the night before. So much happens between that time and I'd never be able to run my law firm if I answered all the early morning questions."
#3: Don't respond immediately - there is no reason for you to respond every time you get a text. If you do, it will slowly decay into a conversation via text, which should have never happened in the first place, but could happen more efficiently through a phone call. We end up texting because it's easier than the task at hand and this causes us to be distracted, less happy, and less successful.