Handcraft What You Allow to Have Your Attention
The Tale of Matthew McConaughey’s Sixth Toe
I know you’ve done this. You’re writing a blog post or story and open a new browser tab to research a fine point of your topic. Microsoft’s news feed, the default browser start page, flashes a story about Matthew McConaughey growing a sixth toe overnight. You have to click it, right? Ten minutes later, you’re up to date on the tale of Matthew’s toe but forget what you were doing. Or you remember, but you’ve lost valuable minutes of your life to Matthew’s toe, and it takes a while to get back into that deep work mindset.
Fighting for Focus
We need to fight against all default settings in our life. We have one life. Why not handcraft and personally curate what and who we allow in our lives instead of permitting someone else to program our defaults?
The world aggressively clamors to claim our eight-second attention spans. Experts estimate that marketers bombard us with 6000–10,000 ads a day. This marketing attack is an assault on our ability to focus, do deep work, have meaningful relationships, and enjoy peace and tranquility.
When was the last time you sat on your patio listening to the birds sing?
A Browser Extension to Maintain My Attention
Microsoft no longer hijacks my attention. I curated what I’m exposed to when I open a new browser tab. And why not? Do you open your front door without peeking through the hole or checking your Ring app? I installed a browser extension, Protopage, a simple, unobtrusive start page. I choose the news sources and sites I like, and the articles are text links with tiny, static images. Nothing on the page visually hijacks my attention. I have a big digital clock front and center on my Protopage, which is a friendly reminder to stay on task.
I deleted my Facebook account earlier this year because it was another annoying distraction.
Write Your Own Story
To borrow an idea from Hero on a Mission author, Donald Miller, our lives are stories. We can be the authors, or we can let someone else write our stories.
Be brave, take charge, and start dictating. The world needs your story.