The Attention Diet

In the time it took me to outline this article I checked Twitter three times and my email twice. I responded to four emails. I checked Slack once and sent text messages to two people. I went down a rabbit hole of YouTube videos once, costing me about 30 minutes of productivity, and I probably checked my books’ ranks on Amazon roughly 3,172 times.

In what should have been 20 minutes of work, I compulsively interrupted myself at least nine times. What’s more, the cost of these interruptions goes way beyond the added amount of time to finish this damn thing. They likely distracted my train of thought, reducing the quality of my writing, thus causing a need for more edits and revisions. They likely created anxiety as I spent much of my distracted time anxious about the fact that I wasn’t working and much of my time working anxious that I was missing out on text conversations, email threads, or news updates. They likely made the process of writing itself less enjoyable and caused it to appear more taxing in my mind.

These distractions aren’t just unproductive, they’re anti-productive. They create more work …