Sometimes, you keep putting things off because you’re worried about how long they’ll take. Rob Cockerham shows that it might not be as bad as you think: The Actual Amount of Time it Takes - An Anti-Procrastination Resource.
Dwight Garner reviews three books about parenting, technology, and attention, in Resisting the Siren Call of the Screen. It’s a bit snarky, but has a few bon mots, like the phrase “The Full Amish.” Here was one passage I liked from it:
Before she speaks about how to pry our kids away from their phones, tablets and laptops, Ms. Steiner-Adair looks parents quite sternly in the eye. She describes a generation of us who are “unavailable, disconnected or narcissistic.” We spend the expanse of our days … gazing into our phones, scanning for the next text, e-mail or tweet.
The message we communicate to our kids, she writes, is: “Everybody else matters more than you.” Children, she declares, “are tired of being the ‘call waiting’ in their parents’ lives.”
Mark Wilson, in a solid critique of one of Apple’s recent ad campaigns: In 20 Years, We’re All Going To Realize This Apple Ad Is Nuts:
In what should be a warm, humanizing montage, people are constantly directing their attention away from one another and the real, panoramic world to soak in pixels. They’re choosing the experience of their products over the experience of other people several times in quick succession. And Apple has a warm voice in the background, goading us on. …
Ironically, in Apple’s flag-planting ad about design, their marketing department (and at least a few execs) have shown how fundamentally little they understand about the field. Design is at its heart a service for humanity, it’s crafting solutions for people to live with more security, efficiency, or happiness. So the experience of a product will never be what matters to a great designer. It’s always been about the experience of a person using that product.
Jack Cheng, on the writing process, and intentionality in general: Moving Upstairs:
A few years ago, a friend shared with me his strategy for decluttering his home. He and his wife lived in a duplex and decided to gather every single thing they had and put it in the bottom level of the duplex. They moved upstairs, lived in just the top level, and as they needed something, they would go downstairs, find it, and bring it up. Little by little, they repopulated their life with only what was necessary.
I was thinking about this strategy today, and I realized it works because if you have something at hand to begin with, you can come up with a bunch of reasons to keep it, whereas if you start without it and have to go out of your way to get it, you have to ask a different question. Instead of asking, “Why should I keep this thing?” You ask, “What thing do I need here?”
Elizabeth Foss, with an outstanding list of Screen Rules for her family. Here are a few:
- Be intentional. Before you sit in front of a screen — iPhone, iPod, computer, or television, or anything else yet to be invented — ask yourself if this is really the best way to use your time.
- Do not use this technology to deceive anyone. Ever. Always, always be truthful online. Don’t airbrush yourself (figuratively or literally.) If you don’t like the person you are, change yourself for real; don’t invent a new you online.
- If you are in a social situation, surrounded by people or even just one person, put your phone away! Away. Learn to people watch, to read the room, to look someone in the eye and convey genuine interest. Put it away or I will take it away. And, if you see me messing up on this one, please remind me.
- And speaking of “likes:” Sweetheart, your worth is not the sum total of the number of likes your selfie got or the number of friends or followers you have. You are so much more than that! No image, no incredibly clever status update, no blog post will ever, ever come close to capturing the wonder of you. If you ever doubt your value, click the computer closed, put your phone in our pocket, and come look me in the eye. I’ll show you how much you are worth.
- Don’t share too much. A little mystery is a good thing.
Christina Wodtke, with one of several tips on How to Stop Procrastinating:
- No, now is not a good time for inbox zero.
- “More research” is code for “not making.”
- Stop rejiggering the framework, and just make what you said you’d make! “I’m thinking about it wrong” just leads to more anguish, and less shipping.
- "Don’t freak out about the wall of stuff. Pick one item. Do it. Take the next item. Do it."
"Boring routines mean you can save your energy to solve big problems every day."
— Chris Oliver
Linda Stone, coiner of the term “continuous partial attention,” in an interview with James Fallows, at The Atlantic: The Art of Staying Focused in a Distracting World:
We learn by imitation, from the very start. That’s how we’re wired. Andrew Meltzoff and Patricia Kuhl, professors at the University of Washington I-LABS, show videos of babies at 42 minutes old, imitating adults. The adult sticks his tongue out. The baby sticks his tongue out, mirroring the adult’s behavior. Children are also cued by where a parent focuses attention. The child’s gaze follows the mother’s gaze. Not long ago, I had brunch with friends who are doctors, and both of them were on call. They were constantly pulling out their smartphones. The focus of their 1-year-old turned to the smartphone: Mommy’s got it, Daddy’s got it. I want it.
We may think that kids have a natural fascination with phones. Really, children have a fascination with whatever Mom and Dad find fascinating. If they are fascinated by the flowers coming up in the yard, that’s what the children are going to find fascinating. And if Mom and Dad can’t put down the device with the screen, the child is going to think, That’s where it’s all at, that’s where I need to be! I interviewed kids between the ages of 7 and 12 about this. They said things like “My mom should make eye contact with me when she talks to me” and “I used to watch TV with my dad, but now he has his iPad, and I watch by myself.”
Kids learn empathy in part through eye contact and gaze. If kids are learning empathy through eye contact, and our eye contact is with devices, they will miss out on empathy.
"A man is a fool not to put everything he has, at any given moment, into what he is creating. You’re there now doing the thing on paper. You’re not killing the goose, you’re just producing an egg. So I don’t worry about inspiration, or anything like that. It’s a matter of just sitting down and working. I have never had the problem of a writing block. I’ve heard about it. I’ve felt reluctant to write on some days, for whole weeks, or sometimes even longer. I’d much rather go fishing. for example. or go sharpen pencils, or go swimming, or what not. But, later, coming back and reading what I have produced, I am unable to detect the difference between what came easily and when I had to sit down and say, ‘Well, now it’s writing time and now I’ll write.’ There’s no difference on paper between the two."