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Posts tagged "distraction"

Jul 29, 2013
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No internet in bed or at the kitchen table.

From The Frailest Thing, comes a great list, “11 Things I’m Trying To Do In Order To Achieve a Sane, Healthy, and Marginally Productive Relationship With the Internet.” My favorites:

1. Don’t wake up with the Internet. Have breakfast, walk the dog, read a book, whatever … do something before getting online. Think of it as a way of preparing – physically, mentally, emotional, morally, etc. – for all that follows.

4. Don’t take meals with the Internet. Log off, leave devices behind, and enjoy your meal as an opportunity recoup, physically and mentally. If you’re inside all day, take your lunch outside. Enjoy the company of others, or take the chance to sit in silence for a few minutes.

11. Don’t go to bed with the Internet.

This reminded me of David Karp: “We have a rule: no laptops in the bedroom.”

And V. Vale:

The only solution [to social media addiction] is not one that most people want to face, which is to become lovers of solitude and silence… I love to spend time alone in my room, and in my ideal world the first hour of every day would be in bed, writing down thoughts, harvesting dreams, before anyone phones or you have any internet access. I write on paper, cause if you write on a laptop, it’s too tempting to go online. You look up a word and then an hour later you remember why you went on…

I think a good rule overall would be: No internet in bed or at the kitchen table.

Something to aspire to, at least…

(via @mattthomas)

Feb 16, 2013
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Turn off notifications

3 things that have improved my life greatly in the past couple of months:

  1. I turned off all notifications on my iPhone.
  2. I quit using Tweetdeck on my laptop.
  3. I turned off my Gmail Notifier.

That’s it.

It might be an obvious point, but it’s crazy how many of my devices tout their ability to distract me as an intelligent feature.

The dumber I make my devices, the smarter I feel…

Jul 25, 2012
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Maira Kalman, from The Principles of Uncertainty

This is something I’ve noticed from reading the obituaries (a practice I stole from Maira) — when you think about death every morning, it makes you want to live… (I also love that phrase meaningful distration…)

Also see the great video of Maira talking about her work that Maria posted.

Maira Kalman, from The Principles of Uncertainty

This is something I’ve noticed from reading the obituaries (a practice I stole from Maira) — when you think about death every morning, it makes you want to live… (I also love that phrase meaningful distration…)

Also see the great video of Maira talking about her work that Maria posted.

(Source: , via explore-blog)

Jul 02, 2012
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Advice for artists: “Put Down The Duckie”

Hoot The Owl explains to Ernie the secret of mastering your craft and making good art. Song written by Chris Cerf and Norman Stiles — in 1988. (Pre-internet!)

Aug 22, 2011
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William James’ attention exercise: “Draw a dot on a piece of paper, then pay attention to it for as long as you can.”

From Sam Anderson’s excellent, “In defense of distraction”:

James argued that the human mind can’t actually focus on the dot, or any unchanging object, for more than a few seconds at a time: It’s too hungry for variety, surprise, the adventure of the unknown. It has to refresh its attention by continually finding new aspects of the dot to focus on: subtleties of its shape, its relationship to the edges of the paper, metaphorical associations (a fly, an eye, a hole). The exercise becomes a question less of pure unwavering focus than of your ability to organize distractions around a central point. The dot, in other words, becomes only the hub of your total dot-related distraction.This is what the web-threatened punditry often fails to recognize: Focus is a paradox—it has distraction built into it. The two are symbiotic; they’re the systole and diastole of consciousness. Attention comes from the Latin “to stretch out” or “reach toward,” distraction from “to pull apart.” We need both. In their extreme forms, focus and attention may even circle back around and bleed into one other.

From James’ original text, Talks To Teachers:

From an unchanging subject the attention inevitably wanders away. You can test this by the simplest possible case of sensorial attention. Try to attend steadfastly to a dot on the paper or on the wall. You presently find that one or the other of two things has happened: either your field of vision has become blurred, so that you now see nothing distinct at all, or else you have involuntarily ceased to look at the dot in question, and are looking at something else. But, if you ask yourself successive questions about the dot,—how big it is, how far, of what shape, what shade of color, etc.; in other words, if you turn it over, if you think of it in various ways, and along with various kinds of associates,—you can keep your mind on it for a comparatively long time. This is what the genius does, in whose hands a given topic coruscates and grows.

William James’ attention exercise: “Draw a dot on a piece of paper, then pay attention to it for as long as you can.”

From Sam Anderson’s excellent, “In defense of distraction”:

James argued that the human mind can’t actually focus on the dot, or any unchanging object, for more than a few seconds at a time: It’s too hungry for variety, surprise, the adventure of the unknown. It has to refresh its attention by continually finding new aspects of the dot to focus on: subtleties of its shape, its relationship to the edges of the paper, metaphorical associations (a fly, an eye, a hole). The exercise becomes a question less of pure unwavering focus than of your ability to organize distractions around a central point. The dot, in other words, becomes only the hub of your total dot-related distraction.

This is what the web-threatened punditry often fails to recognize: Focus is a paradox—it has distraction built into it. The two are symbiotic; they’re the systole and diastole of consciousness. Attention comes from the Latin “to stretch out” or “reach toward,” distraction from “to pull apart.” We need both. In their extreme forms, focus and attention may even circle back around and bleed into one other.

From James’ original text, Talks To Teachers:

From an unchanging subject the attention inevitably wanders away. You can test this by the simplest possible case of sensorial attention. Try to attend steadfastly to a dot on the paper or on the wall. You presently find that one or the other of two things has happened: either your field of vision has become blurred, so that you now see nothing distinct at all, or else you have involuntarily ceased to look at the dot in question, and are looking at something else. But, if you ask yourself successive questions about the dot,—how big it is, how far, of what shape, what shade of color, etc.; in other words, if you turn it over, if you think of it in various ways, and along with various kinds of associates,—you can keep your mind on it for a comparatively long time. This is what the genius does, in whose hands a given topic coruscates and grows.

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What information consumes is rather obvious: It consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention, and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.
— Economist Herbert A. Simon, 1971, quoted in Sam Anderson’s piece, "In Defense of Distraction" (Other gems from William James: “My experience is what I agree to attend to,” and Merlin’s wife: “You have all the information you need to do something right now.”)
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