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Save your attention by changing apps and sites

Save your attention by changing apps and sites
Contributors (1)
Dec 12, 2019

In this era of information overload, we need to conserve our attention. It’s a resource that matters in cyberwarfare, just like water, metal, and rubber were to our ancestors during the World Wars. And it’s a resource that matters to us in our jobs and when we want to spend quality time at home.

If you need to stay focused in the face of the internet’s information firehose, the accessibility settings on a phone or computer can help. Whether you have ADD or are tired or stressed out (or are just young and energetic!), here are some things you can change in your accessibility settings to improve your ability to focus:

  • Turn off animated elements

  • Change your screen to black-and-white mode

  • Turn off notifications

  • “Reading view” in some software (like the Firefox and Edge browsers) cleans out ads so you can focus

  • Use an ad blocker in your browser (bonus: this can also make your device safer!)

There are also apps that can help you focus. Hocus Focus and Hazeover (both for Mac) dim out windows on the screen you’re not using, so that they’re less distracting.

Get help from your friends

Personally, I’ve taken the extreme step of turning off notifications and muting pretty much everyone, in every feed I look at. This makes sure that if I want to hear from friends, I do it on my time when I go to their feed, rather than letting social media shovel new stuff down my throat.

“But wait,” you might be saying, “then how do people know where to contact you in case of an emergency?”

Consider posting a short list of ways you prefer being communicated with, making it clear where you just won’t respond. It doesn’t have to be long! Just indicate where you’re likely to be posting versus where you’re likely to be listening to other people:

➤ in out ➤

Twitter ➤

➤ email

➤ WhatsApp ➤

Instagram ➤

After making changes like these for a little while you may find that you feel better about your online time and how you use it—and you may not even notice how much you’ve changed.

For more ways to stay digitally mindful, check out Keep Calm and Log On!


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