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Distraction management: a foundation skill for the digital age

How to resist the lure of social media in the face of doing something hard?

That question has been on my mind recently.

Computers have evolved from computing machines to tiny multimedia platforms. With it, we have shifted en masse from being productive to being the product.

The US productivity growth has slowed down. Could it be because of companies engineering products to hoard our attention?

Social media, YouTube, Netflix,… they want our attention and seek to lure us in with the song of distraction from the “real world”, painted so negatively by the media.

Now more than ever we need to manage distraction effectively.

Those who will learn to resist the distractions and do what matters will shape the world. Those who won’t will end up as the metaphorical source of electricity for the Matrix.

To not end up that way, I practice distraction management with these strategies:

  • Not using devices when devices aren’t necessary I find thinking best done with pen & paper, not YouTube.

  • Walks, time outside Ideas take time to crystallize. Movement in nature allows that.

  • Sitting idly See above. Bonus points for staring at a wall covered with legible post-its reminding one of one’s purpose.

  • Meditation Sometimes after 15 minutes I feel like I can finally think clearly after hours of brain fog.

It’s an arms race for attention. Companies developing psychological fish hooks versus our ability to see them and not go for the worm.

What practices do you use?