(Courtesy of Travis Isaacs)

Some of us can’t live without them.

Even in my book I write about how I used my cellphone to record the first draft of the outline of my manuscript.

As a user of one of these high-tech gizmos, I admit that I often find myself fully engaged in trying to keep up with my emails, facebook, phone messages, tweets, and the rest. But this type of continual “multi-tasking” may be harming my creativity.

At least that’s what some researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are saying.

“You really can’t multi-task. The brain can’t multi-task,” said Joanne Cantor, the director of UW-Madison’s Center for Communication Research.

“You think you’re multi-tasking, but your brain is just switching back and forth – rapidly often, but every time that your brain switches back and forth, you lose time and you lose quality,” Cantor said.

Creative insights often come when we are using diffused attention and when our conscious mind isn’t constantly chattering with thoughts. In other words, we can be more prone to creative ideas when we are able to make room in our conscious awareness for them to be heard.

And it’s hard to make room for these ideas when we are constantly trying to jam new incoming information into our heads — which is what happens when I’m entranced by my handheld device.

“It’s really important to both focus for periods of time and then get away from that focus because you’re going to be more productive and more creative,” Cantor said

So, if you’re looking to live a more creative life, you may think twice the next time you catch yourself in a laptop or iphone trance. Or at the very least, take a few minutes and take a look at the sky instead.

You can’t read your email by staring at the clouds, but you’ll be better able to see creative ideas fall from the sky.

*This article was inspired by the following news story from