Regarding Focus

Andrew Sullivan: My Distraction Sickness — and Yours

Recorded on September 22nd, 2016

There’s hardly anything I can add to Andrew Sullivan’s article that he doesn’t say better: My Distraction Sickness — and Yours

All those technologies re-connect me with dear old friends on Facebook, inspire me with beautiful photos from strangers on Flickr, and make me feel so close to my favorite podcasters (who are humans). But that network also provides an endless source of distraction, killing my attention and everyone else’s through a thousand tiny ephemeral cuts.

By the way: the irony of finding this article via a link from a friend on Facebook is duly noted. At least I learned some new words while reading it: “febrile”, “novitiate”, “caviling”.

“Although I spent hours each day, alone and silent, attached to a laptop, it felt as if I were in a constant cacophonous crowd of words and images, sounds and ideas, emotions and tirades — a wind tunnel of deafening, deadening noise.”

“Every second absorbed in some trivia was a second less for any form of reflection, or calm, or spirituality.”

Merlin Mann: Ignore Anything That Makes You Consider Stopping

Recorded on September 13th, 2016

In my thicket of text files, I copied this tweet from Merlin Mann EIGHT YEARS AGO, and it’s still good advice:

I am usually awful at this, but in the rare cases when I’m good at it, I manage to keep going for an additional minute at a time, keeping my self-generated attention thieves at bay. I have to remind myself:

  • If you want stop to check CNN, don’t.
  • If you want to check your email inbox, don’t.
  • If you want to check Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, don’t.
  • Just keep working until you’ve put in a good chunk of time and made progress on something.

This is less a “how to be productive” post than it is a reminder to myself for when I forget all of the above.