Attention Economy

Social media is about attention. Real-time chat apps like Messenger, Whatsapp, slack are about attention. 101 meetings are about attention. We live in an attention economy. Everybody whats a time-share of you. A long time ago I disable ALL notifications from Slack, Skype, Whatsapp, Facebook(is closed most of the time of my day) and that is one of the best things you can do too. Not only for your mental health but also to put you in control of your time and therefore your happiness. Interruption is the ultimate killer of deep and meaningful work. However, we also need attention and we might need positive attention much more than feedback(Nine Lies about work).  Humans' attention is a very scarce commodity. I'm not judging anyone: Some people cannot read articles bigger than 5min or videos bigger than 10min. Not for accident Twitter originally had a limit of 140 chars(I miss that :-) ). Attention economy is about information management which threatens human attention as a resource. 

Time is our most precious resource

All of us will die eventually. Time is really related to happiness or stress depending on what you do with it. As human beings, we are busier than ever. There is an explosion of content(like this post) I personally send 3000 Links/per hours :-)  We need to split our attention between our family, our work, our pets, our hobbies, and the internet(which easily suck a lot of time). When you have too much of something, you lose the value of it. There is so much information that is hard to filter the good from the bad parts. There is too much information so attention goes down.  

The book Deep Work claims that we should limit our internet time and even have internet sabbaticals from time to time. The book Think fast and slow also claims that we need to slow down in order to have our system #2 (slow analytical system to catchup) in order to make better decisions and think with clarity.  The book Atomic Habits talks about how we stack up habits and how habits end up defining our identity. Are you in control of your time or not? Control of your time could mean: 
  * Happiness 
  * Meaningful and deep work
  * Getting better habits and therefore becoming a better person 
  * Think clearly, make better decisions, avoid biases(system #1) 

Content Explosion

In a single minute all this data is created and flow trought the internet:

Currently one of the main issues this data explosion creates is the feeling of missing out, called FOMO. People have fear of missing out because we have biases called Loss Aversion biases where we have 2x more fear or lose than win something. Plus we think we have a backlog and we need to catch up. 

Here are a couple of things you can do to take your time back and get in control:
 * Turn off all forms of notifications.
 * Have plugins and software that measure your internet usage like Intention
 * Plan your day ahead
 * Book all-time in your day and avoid the calendar Tetris(37 signals) or the Swiss cheese calendar.
 * Stop checking mail, chats, sites every minute
 * Have your cellphone a bit far away from you. 
 * I always put my cellphone in airplane mode during the night to sleep. 
 * Write down your habits and reflect on them from time to time. 
 * Well being techniques like meditation, yoga, long walks all can help. 
 * Consider using focus techniques like GTD or pomodoro
 * Make your self hard to reach(Deep work)

The way Forward

Limit your internet usage. Deeper connections are much better than shallow ones. It's okay to miss stuff, you can look for them when you need it(JOMO over FOMO). Favor deep work over shallow work. Keep in mind the modern market is about content explosion(It should be about engagement but is not) so try to distinguish between real user experiences haring or insights instead of shallow content with clickbait.    

There is no right or work, Deep vs shallow work is not the only pattern of work. 


I personally fall into something between Rhythmic and Journalistic. Some days might be completely monastic but not the whole week. IMHO in our current reality, especially with COVID-19, we need to learn how to FILTER Information better. 

Cheers,
Diego Pacheco

Popular posts from this blog

Java Agents

Manage Work not People

HMAC in Java