Reclaiming my Attention

At the start of the year, I saw this tweet:

Since adopting a password manager in 2013, I’ve become more aware of all the accounts I’ve accumulated over the years and this tweet motivated me to evaluate whether or not I want to keep them. I installed a Chrome extension that shows you how to delete accounts that expedited the process of removing obvious choices.  Soon after, I appraised my workflows, social networks, and applications. I eliminated more accounts namely Evernote, bitly, and Haiku Deck. Today, I am using fewer apps than I was in January: #winning.

I also read that tweet as a call to reclaim my attention. The fabulous podcast Note to Self recently discussed information overload and it really resonated with me. I often feel anxious that I am missing an essential conversation on Twitter or did not catch the must-read news article about the presidential election. I used to pride myself in my multitasking abilities, but now realize multitasking has led me to feel burned out and overloaded.

So, I decided to reclaim my attention.

I took the #infomagical challenge and deleted a number of apps from my phone (heyyy Facebook & Twitter) and gave my homescreen the Marie Kondo treatment. Looking at my phone feels less overwhelming.

It's my #infomagical phone

I also limited the number of icons that I see on the dock of my computer. I installed a Chrome extension to limit time spent on Facebook and Instagram. Rather than checking Twitter and Facebook for the latest articles in The New York Times or The Atlantic, I subscribed to newsletters that appear in my inbox every morning. The newsletters ensure I will see the articles I need to read. Now, I have a pleasant morning routine of drinking coffee and reading my newsletters. I don’t feel like I am chasing content like a hungry wolf anymore. Per #infomagical, I set information goals for myself; my morning routine and social network boundary help me meet them while maintaining my mental sanity.

Silicon Valley wants your attention; attention is a valuable currency that can translate into favorable stock prices. Social networks want new users to expand growth; they want you to log in, to click links, to view ads. They want you to feel FOMO; inflaming it with email updates and telling you what you’ve missed since you last logged into the sites. ‘Pay attention to me!’

Digital fluency, for me, is not just about mastery of tools; digital fluency is also the ability to set boundaries with those tools to meet your information needs and not Silicon Valley’s.