Brain over capacity (Another reason people don’t innovate)

If you’re a regular user of Twitter you’ll have noticed that occasionally you get met with an error message that says ‘Twitter over capacity’. It means that too many users are trying upload too much data in too shorter time.

I think this has happened to my brain.

If you’re interested in things it’s worse. I’m interested in lots of things. I used to have to go searching for information on my interests. Now, the universe seems to just serve it up daily. I used to hunt down the next great book to read, now they’re stockpiled on my shelves along with unwatched DVDs and four months worth of Doctor Who Magazines to catch up on (I’ve never missed an issue since issue 1 in October 1979).

I’ve got dozens of links to websites and YouTube videos that would be interesting but I just don’t seem to have the time.

But when it comes to procedural, administrative and systematic tasks, time is found and the tasks are done. It’s the creative tasks that get left out. They have one thing in common; they are all big picture holistic ‘right brain’ tasks. And the one that matters most to us in our businesses right now is: innovation.

So what’s going on and what can we do about it?

The new world of instant gratification has turned us all into brilliant multitaskers, living in a heightened state of alert. We used to get on with a job and stopped when it was finished. Now we get distracted, bored and restless if the results and rewards take more than a few seconds to arrive. If we do have to wait for anything, we don’t stop to think, we whip out our dumbphone like some sort of pacifier to give our brains something to fiddle with lest it have time to pause.

For millions of years humans got on with a task such as making a tool or building a dwelling or stone circle. Then something that might distract them came along, like a storm, a wild animal or an invasion from another tribe. So the task would be paused and the new threat dealt with.

Now, we swim in an endless sea of data which appears to our minds to be just as important as the storm, the sabre-toothed tiger or the invaders. We haven’t evolved an ‘off switch’ or an information priority filter, so we deal with and process the incoming news with as much attention as everything else, giving those interrupts a level of attention far beyond what they deserve. We can’t help it. Emails, phones ringing, text messages and Friendface alerts all shout ‘emergency! emergency!’ and switch us into our ancient flight or fight behaviour.

Is it any wonder so many of us are on edge, stresses or tired out?

We’re suffering from a condition that has only recently come to light, where we feel we have to respond to interrupts and take action on everything: Attention Reductive Systematic Execution.

There is only one cure, and it’s a paradox and counter intuitive as it uses up the one commodity that we feel we need more of: time.
“If only had a bit more time” we all say. But that would never work. If we had more time, we’d just surf the internet more, watch more inane telly and mess about on Friendface.

What we need to do is to take a certain amount of time, build a fence around it and only let in ourselves and one task. It could be a certain evening or a certain day. It could be every morning before 9am. Whatever it is, it needs to be a regular time so it gets catalogued as a procedural, administrative and systematic task by our brain, to sneak past our multitasking brainfever mode.

When you’ve created your protected ring-fenced timeplace, free from mobile phones, emails and tweets, you can then use it to work on just the creative, right-brain activity that has been squeezed out of your daily or weekly routine: innovation. (Innovation by the way, is how to make things better or do better things.)

I use Thursdays. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have written this. I’d be too busy answering emails and making jokes up on Twitter complaining that I don’t seem to have any time.

Get Ayd to come into your business to run a masterclass on innovation.


3 comments on “Brain over capacity (Another reason people don’t innovate)

  1. I have a similar problem that has recently been diagnosed as Creative Hindrance and Interference Lethargic Depressive Repressive Exhaustive Neurosis. There must be a good mnemonic for that, but i just can’t think of it. (I guess I’m just too tired!)


  2. Glad I took the time to read this, Ayd. You raise some thought-provoking issues – which I intend to address as soon as I’ve unblocked the sink and been for my flu jab.


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