Conquer CyberOverload: Get More Done, Boost Your Creativity, And Reduce Stress
by Joanne Cantor, PhD, founder of Your Mind on Media
What is “CyberOverload”? According to Dr. Joanne Cantor, it occurs “…when our gadgets and constant electronic linkages interfere with our ability to lead the life we want.” Dr. Cantor implies that in some way the demands of being “…constantly linked to cell phones, computers, TV, and such.” may affect our ability to think and act in a more meaningful way. Many of us claim productivity and efficiency through the examples of ‘gadgets’ Cantor cites in her book.
When asked to review this book, after reading the advance material, I knew I would show a bias toward one’s own self-control to conquer overload. Like time management, it’s up to the individual to set the boundaries and take control of the situation. One of my favorite books – which I have recommended and sent to many friends and associates – is the time-tested “How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life” (by Alan Lakein). Many years later, I still use Lakein’s A-B-C, 1-2-3 priority system for tasks and activities.
When Cantor’s book arrived, I was surprised by its relatively small size – it’s 74 pages in length. From front to back, I easily finished the book on an airline travel segment from Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX to Sacramento, CA. At the end of each chapter is a summary page or two, so the actual subject matter is tight within the chapter, which makes for easy reading. This should not be seen as a deterrent from picking it up to gain some helpful tips that can easily be put into action when you set it back down.
Dr. Cantor claims the book is a result of her “…desire to know more (and to communicate more) about how the brain works and about how people can use that knowledge to make their lives saner and more productive in the Internet age.” In some ways, I wish she had spent more time on this part of the book. Rather than engage in some tips that seem obvious, e.g., take a break with physical exercise, master your interruptions, etc., I would have enjoyed learning more from her research in how the brain works, and why we think we are more productive than we actually are, especially around the notion of multitasking – think texting while driving.
According to Dr. Cantor, we don’t multitask; what we actually do is “Task-Switching”. Cantor says, “…we are rapidly switching our attention back and forth between tasks.” Introduced in Chapter 2, it would be interesting to learn more about how our brain balances the constant distractions and interruptions presented by the challenge of a quality work-life balance. Follow this link for some tips from the Mayo Clinic on: “Work-life balance: Tips to reclaim control”
When I think in terms of task switching, I envision how most of us jump between gadgetry and their applications in the course of a day. Cantor’s book offers some insight, exercises, and tips on how to manage these multiple demands and interruptions of our time, and how to work more efficiently. Also, by taking control of our interruptions, we will manage to get more done. She cites research that shows how our brain can be efficient at moving between two tasks, but can’t manage both of them skillfully when performed at the same time – I would think this holds especially true when things around us are not going well. This reemphasizes the need for us to concentrate on the task at hand vs. handling demands like the guy running back and forth trying to keep all the plates spinning at once.
Other parts of the book talk about creativity and stress reduction. Much of this is well known and fairly straightforward – not much new, here. However, when she launches into the “mirror neurons” research in Chapter 4, you may want to slow down and pay attention. She’s talking about emulating what we watch, and with television and movies, she throws a caution flag of warning, “…your hostility mirror neurons will be well exercised.” Curious, I did some digging around on the Web, only to find there is a great deal of research that points to both the positive and negative effects of mirror neurons – it pays to keep a smile on your face, and your company’s, too.
It seems this book is an outgrowth of Cantor’s workshops and seminars as well as her keen desire to know more about how the brain works. For those of you that serve in a Human Relations capacity for your company, or if you are a manager of a larger department, this book may prove useful as a handout to new employees, or you could offer this as a guide for team members who need to collaborate better on a project or with each other.
Cantor is a recognized expert on the psychology of media and communications, and offers a range of presentations and keynotes for a variety of audiences or events. You can learn more about Cantor’s presentations, as well as purchase the book, from her Web site.