For those of you that have been readers of RFGHF since its inception (and I thank you very much for that, by the way), you probably know my “alter-egos”, Harry Halffull and Mopey Murphy.
These fine friends pop up every once in a while to “moderate” (if you can call it that) my subconscious thoughts.
Sometimes it’s a high-level battle between Murphy’s Law and Half-Fullism.
Another time it’s a struggle to get past the post-holiday blahs.
Lately, however, they’ve engaged in the biggest, most important moderation of them all – the allocation of my attention.
Fact is, what is happening to me is what an article in the NY Times called yesterday a “War Against Distraction“. Apparently I’m not the only one fighting this war, since the person who wrote the article (Maggie Jackson) has written a book, entitled “Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age“.
Pretty serious stuff, it appears. I didn’t like the Dark Ages when I read about it in history class, so I doubt I’ll like it much now. So a lot is at stake here, and Mopey and Harry are on the front lines of this war, sorting through all the demands and pings that come my way. The trouble is, Mopey would just LOVE to plunge me into the distraction abyss, while Harry would just as soon create for me what Ms. Jackson calls a “renaissance of attention“.
Here’s just a small sample of the dialog from “the front”:
Harry: Hey Starbucker, you have a meeting at 11AM, and it’s 10:30AM now – don’t you think you ought to be preparing for it? After all, all your bosses will be there and they like to ask pretty detailed questions.
Mopey: Tsk tsk tsk Harry, this guy doesn’t need to prepare for a meeting! Not when there are 50 Twitter messages up on his screen that he can answer! Or 100 e-mails from the day before that need to be read. Or 3 phone messages that haven’t been returned from yesterday. Oh, and he hasn’t caught up on the news yet. Don’t ya love the Internet!
Harry: C’mon Mopey, none of that stuff is urgent, is it? Twitter messages? Those streams of consciousness can certainly wait. E-mail? Maybe a couple need to be attended to, but no more. And the news can wait – isn’t that what a lunch hour is for?
Mopey: You just don’t have any faith in this kid and his multitasking abilities, do you? Oh, and he needs another cup of coffee, by the way.
Harry: Now is not really a good time to be going to the break room for coffee – there’s that meeting, remember?
Mopey: What meeting? The break room has such great possibilities for distraction – coffee, plus a water cooler discussion about something like golf. How about that Tiger Woods!
Harry: Gosh, that Tiger was something…. HEY! You are pretty darn clever Mopey – ya almost got me. He’s not leaving this office.
Mopey: You’re right – there are those Twitterers he needs to attend to. Lots of important stuff there. And he’s addicted to it, to boot. He’s just going to have to wing it at the meeting, my man.
Harry: Oy. Maybe I should just unplug the computer, and hide his Blackberry.
Mopey: The Blackberry? Gosh no – that’s the most important interrupter of them all! He even takes it into meetings with him.
Harry: Wait – I hear the phone ringing; can’t his assistant handle that?
Mopey: Are you kidding? It could be something really unimportant, like a friend calling about setting up a dinner or something. He’s GOT to pick that up!
Harry: Starbucker, please – pay attention to what I’m trying to tell you man! Mopey is going to push you into the Dark Ages, just like Maggie Jackson said. Look at the quote she wrote about, by William James – “Wisdom is the art of knowing what to overlook”. You want to be wise, right? And are unwise people successful? I think not.
Mopey: Hey, that’s not fair, appealing to those higher ambitions and painting the big picture. We’re lost in the details, remember?
Harry: Do you think I was born yesterday? I know this guy. Sometimes I just need to get him back up to 50,000 feet.
Mopey: But he still needs coffee…….
Harry: OK, just coffee – but right there and back. OK?
Mopey: And can he answer a Twitter or two?
Harry: Two, no more.
Mopey: You’re a hard bargainer, Harry, but next time, he’s GOIN’ DOWN!!
Harry: Not on my watch! Starbucker, you have our orders now. Let’s make it happen.
So there you have it – the war rages on. Battle after battle, morning after morning.
At least I’ve trained them to always put the coffee on the negotiating table. 🙂