20 habits for attention hygiene: how to use technology, but not let them take their time and attention

    Technology captures our time and attention, and it’s not just not funny, it’s sad, right down to depression , anxiety and bipolar disorder. I regularly publish studies on the impact of technology on mental health on Habré and in my telegram channel, and during this time a certain amount of observations has accumulated.

    Ok Google, and what to do in a world where technology is the connecting link for our professional, social and personal lives? Can ethical design techniques and attention hygiene be used to improve being?

    The approaches

    You can approach the solution radically: cut off any connection, buy a clamshell phone and throw out your iPhone, take a vacation, make yourself a digital detox , drive it to Vipassana or go to Phangan.

    We can accept the fact that this is a new reality: the world is accelerating, a vertical solarium is not the limit of progress, technology is progressing, there is no privacy. It’s time to come to terms. And the pharmaceutical industry is on the alert, she has blue pills for any occasion ...

    This is all cool, but I would like less drastic measures. For one reason or another, for myself, I chose to live in the most technologically (re) saturated point of the Earth, in San Francisco, and from this, keeping the boundaries of my time, attention and energy has become my daily practice.

    I get a buzz from the fact that I have access to the latest technology, but I also trudge from the fact that I have friends that I can meet at any time; lectures and workshops, which I can easily break in the evening; the ability to write texts every couple of days about what is interesting to me ; almost any weekend I can go to nature or travel by car.

    The middle way is close to me, without extremes. To organize it, I had to experiment a lot, optimizing my time and technological space.

    10 habits that have taken root

    I have a small set of practices that allow me to take control of technology in my hands. I will give them below:

    1. Screen Time: the default is 0 minutes for all dopamine-stimulating applications. I need to invest time to enter a password and allow the application for 15 minutes, after which it again falls into the forbidden list. It's like a speed bump - it creates barriers, reduces speed and reduces the time I spend in programs.
    2. The minimum set of applications on the phone. 10 messengers? 6 social networks? 7 banking app? No thanks, one per group is enough.
    3. Key communication in 1-2 channels: Telegram for all basic conversations, SMS / Apple Messages for American contacts and close friends.
    4. Limit Google and Facebook products. These companies earn on advertising, for this they need to optimize products around metrics of engagement and duration of use. Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft make money selling physical products, applications, and subscriptions. All other things being equal, I use products from the last group.
    5. All working applications are on the computer. On the phone only basic applications for communication, navigation, money exchange, etc.
    6. Top 3 apps on the statistics of my Screen Time removed from the phone. Created three hours a day for myself. Magic!
    7. Notifications for phone and SMS only. By default, they are turned off in all other applications.
    8. There is a second phone that I use for attention-consuming applications. For example, with his help, I have Instagram and update Facebook. Access to it is limited.
    9. Applications on the phone are grouped according to the basic principles of / Jobs To Be Done: conversation, movement, reproduction ¯_ (ツ) _ / ¯, recording, concentration, exchange of funds, time management, personal care.
    10. Browsers are divorced and equipped with attention-saving plugins. Chrome for work, Safari for personal projects. Both there and there are a set of plugins for access restrictions (by time, resources, part of the site, method of perception): UnDistracted, Stay Focused, Decreased Productivity, Mercury Reader, AdBlock. There are many such solutions, but you can count the good ones on your fingers, so if it is interesting, I will write a separate post about it.

    10 good practices that have not taken root

    1. Remove all notifications. Part of the notifications is important, therefore, included them only in important applications.
    2. Black and white on the phone to hide the color of red notifications. The latter attract attention and create interruptions in work, leading to loss of focus. Instead of the black-and-white mode that can be selected in the settings, I reduced the number of applications and those that are allowed to notify.
    3. Remove all notifications from Lock Screen. The same considerations.
    4. Delete all social media. Instead, he limited his stay, got a separate media phone, where you need to be from time to time.
    5. Voice messages instead of text. It did not take root, first of all, because in Western culture it is not customary to dictate messages.
    6. Complete blocking of all attention-consuming applications using Freedom, Self Control, etc. Too tough approach, and I'm in this sense a vanilla guy.
    7. Call applications only through Spotlight (iOS) or Search (Android) . I really call part of the applications this way, but all the main ones are arranged in folders, which are named after the basic principles / Jobs To Be Done.
    8. Dark Mode on sites by default. In theory, the “dark mode” should reduce the number of vibrant websites, but in fact it does not work well with different features of website display.
    9. Meditation Apps. As you know, mindfulness meditation allows you to get more control over the quality of attention and affects the emotional state. I started with Headspace five years ago, but when the practice became more serious, I began to meditate myself, with the usual timer application.
    10. Tomato timers . We work 25 minutes, 5 rest, repeat. After the fourth repetition take a long break. It works for someone, but as it turned out, not for me.

    And how do you save your time and attention?

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