There’s more focus in my life. It has not always been that way. What does focus enable me to do and how did I get here?
I lay in bed. My eyes are open. Silence. I hold Kindle with one hand, focused on resolute words. I get into flow and read for almost an hour.
I work on this blog post. My fingers swiftly move from one key to another. The coffee shop is half empty. I write for a long while without distractions.
I talk with my brother on my iPhone via video chat. We exchange stories, tell each other what happened during the week. Our attention is on each other. We talk and talk until there’s nothing more to say.
It has not always been that way.
I used to get distracted. I would get on Twitter, click a couple of links and an hour later I would still be in progress with a blog post.
Or. My attention would be stolen away. My phone would light up and play a sound. Whoosh. Chirp. Snikt.
I could try to fight off distraction with my willpower. But that’s a battle I would eventually lose. My mental resources are limited.
Even before this year, I’ve been purposely limiting the number of distractions in my life.
I don’t follow a lot of people on Twitter. Only one hundred and forty-two. Again, the number was not chosen on purpose.
I limit the amount of time I spend on the web with WasteNoTime. It allows specifying the amount of time I can spend on distracting websites before they become not accessible to me. Reading The A.V. Club is fun, but ten minutes per day is enough. And zero of those minutes during work hours.
I also remove distracting features from various websites with the help of Stylish. It allows specifying and efficiently managing custom CSS rules. For example, Facebook’s feed is invisible to me. It’s removed via a 12 line stylesheet. That leaves me to using Facebook primarily for messaging and discovering events.
These four (delete apps, unfollow people, WasteNoTime, Stylish) helped a lot, but not enough. Recently I’ve added two more.
A couple of months ago, I started using Restrictions, also known as parental controls, on my iPhone. They are meant for parents, who want to block or limit apps. Or for insane people like yours truly. I primarily use Restrictions to block websites. For example, I have LinkedIn and Reddit blocked. I don’t use their apps, so it’s impossible for me to get distracted by their content.
A month ago I turned off notifications for Outlook (email), Slack, Twitter on my iPhone. I’ve had them off for Messenger for a while. Badge Icon is still on to show me counts. Combined with the small number of apps, this ensures that I only get notified when it’s urgent. When someone calls me. When I get an SMS. When my taxi arrives.
That helps enough. For now.
I want to be productive and present. I want to get into flow and get stuff done. I, most importantly, want to give my full attention to the person I talk or spend time with.