Resolution: Regain and Retain Attention

~ Lifebook #19 ~

Like many, I consume a lot of media. Be it social media, websites, research, daily & weekly podcasts, television, music, books and comic books — altogether it’s too much. Something’s got to give because I need my own damn attention back. I need my focus. I need to make a change, like pronto. Of course it won’t be books and certainly not music that I eliminate. However, I’ve already cut back on my weekly/monthly comic book/graphic novel reading. Over the recent years my television consumption has increased quite a bit because we are in a new golden age of television after all (although I’m still under the national average, at only 2-3 hours per day). Yet, still it’s too much. I could probably cut back on a few podcasts, but really those lovely things get me through my workday while I do very repetitive and monotonous work at the Day Job. That means the obvious place to make a drastic change in consumption (read: time suckage) is in social media and, well, the Internet in general. And what perfect time to make that behavioral adjustment than the New Year? Getting the damn phone out of my hand more and replacing that physical activity with even more books and more writing. It is precious time that could be better spend writing, say, daily microfiction like 100-word drabbles and 50-word dribbles, or jotting down the half-dozen story ideas that percolate through my brain daily. These are activities that I wish I could simply do on my phone with ease, instead of scrolling Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — however, the soft keyboards on smartphones are very aggravating interfaces for writing.

But I digress. The point is, WE ALL need to regain and retain our attention so that we may focus on more creative and productive things in our daily lives. In short . . . we need to PUT DOWN THE DAMNED PHONES!

One way of looking at it is: anything that is great . . . anything that is worth a damn hardly ever comes easy.

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Early last year I presented this article by Craig Mod (via Backchannel and Wired) as a guest blog where he writes about his determination to snatch back his attention. It’s worth a read.

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Thinkbook 4 | Noise Reduction

~ This is a #thinkbook entry on #ruckology in which Brandon L. Rucker confronts his problem with  unhealthy distractions ~

I’ve written about it here before, and it’s on my mind quite a bit of late. This need to decrease the volume of external noise. And when a writer mentions external noise he almost always means that of the social kind. More specifically, social media. Considering the fact that I’m current in a rather busy creative place of late, I need to do what I can to minimize distractions of all kinds, but especially social media.

It doesn’t help that by my own inquisitive nature, I am a newsjunkie. It doesn’t help that as a man in his early 40s with a young family, a good chunk of my social life is maintain by the advent of social media. But, just as I can prevent myself from going into town to hang with the locals for a good time, surely I can prevent myself from spending far too much time perusing the likes of Facebook and Twitter.

One option is to simply create a manual situation of turning off automatic notifications on one’s phone during the day. That curbs the frequent prompting of checking the phone via notifications. However, that’s only really effective if you keep busy with other things. If you’re bored or unoccupied you’re going to be tempted. Alternatively, I know some people who have removed social media apps from their phones completely, which would mean to check in they would have to do so whenever they’re at a computer, which would be less frequent when mostly mobile.

Whichever option I choose, I’m going to use that freed up time to write in one of the many notebooks I’m carrying around with me everywhere. A month ago I wrote about the option to use one’s phone for writing. Not ideal, no. But it’s an option. And a while back I described what I like to call my blank page fetish (note: Hello, Blank Page is no more).

So that’s the plan. Ween off of social media some. Put that attention toward writing on my projects wherever possible. Or writing here on this WordPress. Simply a more productive use of one’s time.

Of course no plan of mine ever comes without its inconvenient irony. Looking to decrease external noise, yet, I’ve recently pledged myself to watching more movies. That’s something I used to do more frequently many years ago. Aside from the entertainment factor, movies have always managed to benefit me by getting my mind thinking on story ideas while forcing me to examine narrative and point-of-view options. So, at least that particular external noise is creative noise, right?

I’m no fool. I’ll always have distractions. The key for creative people is to have healthy ones, the kind from which you can draw positive creative energy. For me that’s represented in the stack of books and movies that await my consumption. And once all that’s consumed I can see myself writing another one of these about how I need to curb my consumption as well.

Ah, the perilous path of the writer can be fraught with booby-traps.