Tagged With attention

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There are a lot of reasons to keep your phone out of the bathroom, but protecting your phone from germs or potential falls into the toilet are secondary - though, yes, stop putting your phone in your back pocket, that's dangerous. But the real reason to leave your phone out of the bathroom is mindfulness.

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The most frustrating thing about a phone addiction is that unlike actual substance abuse, the solution is not to stop using it completely. Instead, we have to find ways to use this technology responsibly, fighting apps overtly designed to steal our time.

Predicting the future is near impossible -- but that doesn‘t stop us all from having a red hot go. Human beings have been predicting the future since the beginning of history and the results range from the hilarious to the downright uncanny.

One thing all future predictions have in common: they‘re rooted in our current understanding of how the world works. It‘s difficult to escape that mindset. We have no idea how technology will evolve, so our ideas are connected to the technology of today.

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You might call them "distractions". Maybe you call them your "to-do list". Whatever words you use, they're the things that keep pulling you away from what you should be doing right now. These habits require your reaction, and they get in the way of real productivity.

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If you're an avid daydreamer whose mind regularly wanders off at the most inopportune moments—like in the middle of a conversation—don't be too hard on yourself. The WSJ reports that your wandering mind isn't idle after all.

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Tech writer Mike Elgan brilliantly argues that while our parents taught us hard work and long hours will lead to success, in the internet age the ability to control what you pay attention to is the key.

A person who works six hours a day but with total focus has an enormous advantage over a 12-hour-per-day workaholic who's "multi-tasking" all day, answering every phone call, constantly checking Facebook and Twitter, and indulging every interruption. It's time we upgraded our work ethic for the age we're living in, not our grandparents' age. Hard work is still a virtue, but now takes a distant second place to the new determinant of success or failure in the age of Internet distractions: Control of attention. Hard work is dead. Are you paying attention?

His points about the merging of work and play onto our computers—which we are on all day, which can make play look like work—are well-outlined and spot-on. Read this whole article; it's a great kick in the pants for getting focused in the New Year.

the new work ethic: just paying attention at intellectual properties

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When that normally low key person you follow on Twitter starts flooding your timeline with tweets every ten minutes, you can temporarily unsubscribe to them using the TwitterSnooze web application. Hit the snooze button on someone for a certain number of days by entering your Twitter username, password, and the person you want to snooze into the TwitterSnooze web site. Behind the scenes, TwitterSnooze actually unsubscribes you and then resubscribes you to that person (all the while storing your password in their database!) so your snoozee may get email notifications about your temporary leave. So be warned about those key details before you hit the snooze button—still, a great way to miss a conference or "live tweet" event you're not interested in hearing about.

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Even though that report is due by the end of the day, you just spend the last two hours watching Family Guy YouTube clips because you just can't help yourself. If you regularly find yourself clicking around Facebook, keyboard covered in drool, when you're supposed to be getting stuff done&mdashh;or better, going outside—it's time to break out the big guns. Restrained web surfing feels like an impossible feat for rabid infovores, but a Firefox extension called LeechBlock can help. Here's how you can save yourself from quicksand web destinations at certain times of the day with LeechBlock.

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Geeks joke about having Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) all the time, and ADD expert Dr. Edward Hallowell says that's not too far off. In his book, CrazyBusy, Hallowell argues that Crackberry culture leads to ADD-like symptoms in people that don't officially have the disorder—a problem he calls Attention Deficit Trait (ADT). While Hallowell's fondness for making up words like "gigaguilt" and "screensucking" can be annoying, the overall message of CrazyBusy is that we all need to slow down and think in order to innovate instead of being constantly on the go in a frenzied (dumb) state of mind.

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Ever at dinner with someone who can't look away from the Crackberry? Technologist Linda Stone says this isn't just multi-tasking, it's a case of "continuous partial attention":

Continuous partial attention and multi-tasking are two different attention strategies, motivated by different impulses. When we multi-task, we are motivated by a desire to be more productive and more efficient... In the case of continuous partial attention, we're motivated by a desire not to miss anything. There's a kind of vigilance that is not characteristic of multi-tasking. With cpa, we feel most alive when we're connected, plugged in and in the know. We constantly SCAN for opportunities—activities or people—in any given moment. With every opportunity we ask, "What can I gain here?"

Whenever someone's checking their cell phone for new email while we're in the midst of a face-to-face conversation, I always want to ask if the little screen is a better deal. Then again, I can't say I haven't been guilty of CPA myself from time to time. Got any unbearable CPA'ers in your life? How do you deal? Let us know in the comments.

Fine Dining with Mobile Devices

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Stop procrastinating and improve your time management skills with free ebook Time Management for Creative People. Blogger and author Mark McGuinness rolled a series of time management articles into a short (32 page) ebook. Even if you don't consider yourself a creative person, the ebook is chocked full of useful tips.

I will offer some suggestions for keeping the tide of external demands at bay and helping you to develop a truly creative routine and rhythm to your working day. I won't offer you a rigid system or any 'best practice' nonsense - just some principles and suggestions for you to try out and adapt as you see fit.

I would describe the book as an adaptation of GTD coupled with tips to help improve your time management and focused attention skills.

Time Management for Creative People