Last week while on vacation at a beautiful Florida beach, I went “offline.” I didn’t check email or voice mail and only went online to find a local restaurant. It was great!
Being without my iPhone, made me hyper-aware how other people were using their smart-devices. The most striking example was the teenager at the beach who was texting for hours at a time. While I swam in the surf, listened to the sound of the birds and watched a pod of dolphins swim along the coast, this teenager was so focused on his smartphone that he missed it all. He was at the beach, but not really at the beach– he was missing the moment.
While this blog is not a commentary on teenager’s behavior, this vivid example, made me think about how professionals divide their attention especially during a meeting. Humans cannot effectively divide their attention between two similar, complex tasks such as reading and listening. No one can read an email on their smartphone while simultaneously listening to someone speak during a meeting.
Get in to the office early or stay late, but don’t text, send or read email while participating in a meeting with other people– don’t miss the moment to hear what is being said or weigh in with your own opinion on the subject. You’ll miss the moment like the teenager on the beach.