Almost three years ago, after reading a post from the excellent finance blogger Nic Brisbourne, Sarah introduced the thinking of “lifestyle experimenter” Tim Ferris to the household. As it happens, the first book of his we read was The 4-Four Hour Body – a set of strategies for achieving optimal health and physical performance. But it was the book’s predecessor, The 4-Hour Work Week that had the most impact on Turner Hopkins, helping us to think about every aspect of our work and life – and how they fit together.

But Ferriss was just a gateway drug to a whole new world of writers, bloggers and podcasters all thinking about alternative approaches to work that might enrich us is some way: make us more productive, more creative or simply more satisfied with our work.

Much of our research has centred on technology. Digital technology has of course been a huge enabler, and is at the core of our work as consultants – and now as investors. But we’ve come to see it as as much part of the problem as it is part of the solution. Distraction, overwhelm, sedentarism, sleep deprivation: these are among the many downsides of the digital revolution.

We’ve been thinking for some while about how we build the lessons we’ve learned over the last three years (and, for that matter, across our shared half century – sigh – of working) into our work as consultants. We delivered a pilot for a Personal & Professional Effectiveness programme for TRC Media in Glasgow earlier this year, as we discussed – along with a follow up reading list – here. And we’re now developing a highly interactive workshop to take to clients over the next few months.

It feels like a natural corollary to our existing work. And we’ll start to share some of our thoughts on this blog, sharing podcasts and blog posts, reviewing books, or simply reflecting on recent experience.

Here’s one to be going on with. I’m currently reading The Distraction Addiction, a fantastically engaging book written by seasoned tech commentator Alex Soojung-Kim Pang. The book tackles head on the huge impact that “digital distraction” has on our work and on our mental health. Alex’s solution is “contemplative computing”, an approach to using tech that builds on his decades of experience as a very serious meditator.

Drawing on sources as diverse as archeology, anthropology, cybernetics and classical Buddhism, the book strives to be practical as well as illuminating. I’m particularly taken with Jeffrey MacIntyre‘s notion of “Zenware” – software that uses the principle of simplicity to aid concentration and increase effectiveness (as it happens, I am writing this post using the wonderful, take-over-all-screen-real-estate word processing application OmmWriter Dana, a product developed by Barcelona-based creative agency Herraiz Soto).

Anyway, here’s Alex talking to Vincent Horn about contemplative computing on the wonderful Buddhist Geeks podcast. We look forward to bringing you more thoughts from the frontiers of effectiveness over the coming months.

Simon

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