from the world's big
Being busy all the time is a habit you made. You can unmake it.
There will never be enough time. Here's how to use it more wisely.
Dan Pontefract is Chief Envisioner at TELUS, where he heads the Transformation Office, a future-of-work consulting group that helps organizations enhance their corporate cultures and collaboration practices. Dan is an adjunct professor at the University of Victoria Gustavson School of Business and is the author of several acclaimed books. Follow him on Twitter at @dpontefract.
DAN PONTEFRACT: The current approach today is essentially we've entered into a culture of freneticism—that's a Big Think word, and that means we're really busy. But I believe we've created the business on ourselves. Ultimately we've become distracted by— squirrel!—the next thing that pops into our head or the next thing that pops onto our device or the next thing that pops into our laptop; we're addressing it. And for some reason, we think it's a good idea to attend to every notification, every want of an employee, every need of a boss. And so we are loading ourselves up with more to do. We are ultimately working on the next thing while we're doing the current thing at the same time. We think that multitasking is a badge of honor.
We think that "do more with less" is the corporate mantra that's going to take us to gold medal plates. And it's frightening. And what we need to do is to take a step back and say, "How did we get here, is it good, and what's in store for the future?"
Right now, I mean ultimately, our team members, our bosses, our leaders are walking around like zombies, and it's not good. We go from one meeting to another. We're in a peripatetic state. We're just ultimately going from the 8:00 to the 9:00 to the 10:00 to the 11:00. We used to go out for lunch and pause, but now we go get lunch, we bring it to our desk and we stare at another device trying to catch up with everything we haven't done between 8:00 and 12:00, and then we go to the next meeting at 1:00, and we end up at 5:00. And then maybe we pick up the kids or we've got to go to soccer practice. And instead of looking at the soccer practice and the kids at that soccer practice we're looking at our device, because there's eight more texts and 15 more emails that have come in. And now it's 7:00 and you've got to make dinner. And at 7:00 and it's dinner you're like, "Well, I don't actually know how to make dinner anymore," so you order. And then while you're ordering you're attending to all your social streams.You're saying, "Oh! Well, I forgot how much I like dopamine, so I like those red things on my phone and my laptop that say, 'Hey, I've got eight likes on Instagram and 24 likes on Facebook'. Maybe I'll post more."
And then all of a sudden 16 more emails come in and you've got 14 more tasks to do because now you're at 9:00. "Well, I don't know, maybe I should just watch something." And so you binge watch Netflix for the fifteenth time and then it's 12:00 and you do the same thing over again.
So, for some reason, we think this is a good thing. We think that being constantly busy without having the pause, the meandering of thought, the marination in the moment; we think that we've just got to be constantly on and that's a good thing. But it's not. What we're doing is creating balls of cortisol. That means that we've got cortisol emitting from every orifice in our body.
We see that the APA is telling us that our levels of stress have increased since 1980 to a point where one-third of us are suffering from chronic stress in the workplace. We see other studies that suggest that half of us bring that state of stress home creating personal stress in our personal lives. So how is this good, when we're walking around with balls of cortisol emitting from every orifice? I don't see where this ends well for us in society.
One of the things that we ought to be thinking about—like I suppose any good book does—is think of things in a two-by-two matrix. That simplifies everything in our lives and so if we do that then we're fine, really. But in my case, I'm suggesting that there's a y- and an x-axis and we're only on the x-axis. The x-axis is action. So we seem to be stuck in the bottom right-hand quadrant, if you're kind of following a two-by-two matrix. So we're down here. And that's where action is. And we just sort of live in that state. There's more than 50 percent of us that are ultimately just "doing" all the time. We're addicted to the doing. But the word I think I want to reintroduce to society is reflection. When we reflect, so back here on the y-axis, when we reflect, we are ultimately commandeering our time. What we're doing is we're looking at our calendar and saying, "Is there any white space?" What we're doing is we're saying "Okay, when we take that elevator ride up to the 43rd floor in a hotel in New York in Manhattan, am I not looking at a device and am I possibly actually saying "Hello" to someone in an elevator? Reflecting, right?
To me, reflecting is also about networking and meeting people. Going for a walk without looking at your device, reflecting on what it is that maybe allows you to be who you are, who you want to be—what's your purpose?
Where we really need to get to is up here on the top right, and that is the balance of reflection with action. When we do that I'm not suggesting that we don't take action. Obviously, we need to. We need to get things done, right. We've got a project, we've got tasks, et cetera. But if we do insert more reflection time into our day that action becomes that much more prosperous and profitable and positive. But when we don't we just sit there, "doing" all the time. Then what ultimately ends up is less innovation, probably more absenteeism, less productivity, ironically, and we end up being more stressed.
- One-third of us are suffering from chronic stress in the workplace. Other studies suggest that half of us bring our work stress home, creating stress in our personal lives.
- Being busy has become a cultural obsession. But it's not the golden badge of honor we think it is. Dan Pontefract points out that there's a big difference between being busy and being productive.
- The best productivity hack? Schedule a break. That means eating lunch away from your desk. Saying hello to people around you. Keep a graph in your mind that has 'action' on the x-axis and 'reflection' on the y-axis. Where do you sit on that graph?
Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.
A time for sleep<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="Mt29uUqI" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="931343dee3c02121445e51e94ba22446"> <div id="botr_Mt29uUqI_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/Mt29uUqI-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/Mt29uUqI-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/Mt29uUqI-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>Previous studies had already suggested a link between persistent nightmares in childhood and psychosis and borderline personality disorder (BPD) by adolescence, but researchers at the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology wanted to see if a similar connection existed between these mental disorders and other childhood behavioral sleep problems.</p><p>To do this, they scoured data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, a longitudinal cohort study that followed approximately 14,000 children born in Avon, England, in the early 1990s. The study followed the children for more than 13 years. During that time, mothers filled out questionnaires asking about the children's lives. Factors looked at included housing, parenting, nutrition, physical health, mental wellbeing, environmental exposures, and so on. </p><p>The cohort study inquired about sleep routines, sleep duration, and awakening frequency when the children were 6, 18, and 30 months old, and then again at 3.5, 4.8, and 5.8 years. It also assessed mental health in adolescence using semi-structured interviews, such as the Psychosis-Like Symptom Interview.</p><p>"We know that adolescence is a key developmental period to study the onset of many mental disorders, including psychosis or BPD. This is because of particular brain and hormonal changes which occur at this stage," <a href="https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/staff/profiles/psychology/marwaha-steven.aspx" target="_blank">Steven Marwaha</a>, professor of psychiatry at Birmingham and senior author on the study, <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/07/200701125431.htm" target="_blank">said in a release</a>. "Sleep may be one of the most important underlying factors—and it's one that we can influence with effective, early interventions, so it's important that we understand these links."</p><p>After compiling the data, the researchers discovered an association between children with irregular sleeping patterns and teenagers with <a href="https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/psychosis/about-psychosis/" target="_blank">psychotic experiences</a>—that is, episodes when the person perceives reality differently than those around them. Even when depression at 10 years old was considered as a mediating factor, their findings still suggested "a specific pathway between these childhood sleep problems and adolescent psychotic experiences." </p><p>Toddlers with shorter nighttime sleep duration and late bedtimes were likewise associated with a <a href="https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/borderline-personality-disorder/index.shtml" target="_blank">borderline personality disorder</a>—a disorder marked by a pattern of varying moods, self-images, and behaviors—in their teenage years. Depression at age 10 did not mediate this particular association, suggesting a separate and more specific pathway. </p>
A more restful tomorrow<p>While the sample size was large and mental health was assessed with a validated interview, there nevertheless remain limitations to this data. For starters, sleep habits were based on mothers' reports. Because they came from memory, versus a more direct observation method such as actigraphy, these data may be prone to imperfect recollection and reporting error. There are also many confounders that could be secretly nudging the results, such as family conditions, prenatal medicines, and a host of environmental factors. Finally, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6024884/#:~:text=Sleep%20difficulties%20in%20youth%20with,fear%20of%20dark%20%5B13%5D." target="_blank">the relationship between sleep problems and mental disorders</a> is both complex and two-way.</p><p>As such, the study shows an association between poor childhood sleep later mental disorders but does not prove a causal link. Parents need not worry that a string of nightmares or the eternal struggle settle into bed will be the first ingredients in a witches' brew of debilitating mental disorders. The goal of the study, the researchers point out, is not to create undue worry but improve our ability to recognize the signs of at-risk children and deliver necessary interventions earlier.</p><p>"The results of this study could have important implications for helping practitioners identify children who might be at higher risk for psychotic experiences or BPD symptoms in adolescence, and potentially lead to the design of more effectively targeted sleep or psychological interventions to prevent the onset or attenuate these mental disorders," Isabel Morales-Muñoz, the study's lead researcher, <a href="https://www.healio.com/news/psychiatry/20200702/childhood-sleep-problems-linked-to-adolescent-psychosis-borderline-personality-disorder#:~:text=Sleep%20problems%20during%20early%20childhood,study%20published%20in%20JAMA%20Psychiatry." target="_blank">told Healio Psychiatry</a><u>.</u></p><p>If a parent reading this is worried that their child's sleep patterns are deleterious, the take away should not be despair over an unyielding fate. It should be to seek professional help as soon as possible to begin improving sleep duration and quality. Even if you aren't worried, it's worth remembering that childhood experiences lay the foundation for a lifetime of salubrious sleeping habits. It's so much more than beauty rest.</p>
Are we genetically inclined for superstition or just fearful of the truth?
- From secret societies to faked moon landings, one thing that humanity seems to have an endless supply of is conspiracy theories. In this compilation, physicist Michio Kaku, science communicator Bill Nye, psychologist Sarah Rose Cavanagh, skeptic Michael Shermer, and actor and playwright John Cameron Mitchell consider the nature of truth and why some groups believe the things they do.
- "I think there's a gene for superstition, a gene for hearsay, a gene for magic, a gene for magical thinking," argues Kaku. The theoretical physicist says that science goes against "natural thinking," and that the superstition gene persists because, one out of ten times, it actually worked and saved us.
- Other theories shared include the idea of cognitive dissonance, the dangerous power of fear to inhibit critical thinking, and Hollywood's romanticization of conspiracies. Because conspiracy theories are so diverse and multifaceted, combating them has not been an easy task for science.
Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
A growing body of research suggests COVID-19 can cause serious neurological problems.
- The new study seeks to track the health of 50,000 people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
- The study aims to explore whether the disease causes cognitive impairment and other conditions.
- Recent research suggests that COVID-19 can, directly or indirectly, cause brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage and other neurological problems.
Brain images of a patient with acute demyelinating encephalomyelitis.
COVID-19 and the brain<p>A growing body of research reveals alarming neurological complications among COVID-19 patients. On Wednesday, for example, researchers from University College London published a <a href="https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/doi/10.1093/brain/awaa240/5868408" target="_blank">study</a> in the journal Brain that describes how some patients have suffered temporary brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage, and other neurological problems concurrent with COVID-19.</p><p>Some patients suffered brain inflammation as a result of a rare disease called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, which can cause numbness, seizures, and confusion. One patient in the study even hallucinated monkeys and lions in her home.</p>
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images<p>A separate study published in the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7198407/" target="_blank">Journal of Clinical Neuroscience</a> notes that some COVID-19 patients have also suffered neurological complications like impaired consciousness and acute cerebrovascular disease. The study notes that past viruses like MERS and SARS also seemed to cause neurological problems.</p><p>A troubling finding among this growing body of research is that some patients seem to suffer neurological damage even when respiratory symptoms aren't obvious. Additionally, scientists aren't sure whether damage from the disease will be permanent.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Given that the disease has only been around for a matter of months, we might not yet know what long-term damage COVID-19 can cause," Dr. Ross Paterson, joint first author of the University College London study, said in a <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-07/ucl-iid070620.php" target="_blank">press release</a>. "Doctors needs to be aware of possible neurological effects, as early diagnosis can improve patient outcomes."</p><p>If you've been diagnosed with COVID-19 and want to enroll in the study, visit <a href="https://www.cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study" target="_blank">cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study</a>.</p>