“You don’t get what you don’t fight for.”

Stolen Focus

We all struggle with our focus, whether we know it or not. How long it takes us to disconnect from the world and have a thought without distraction? How many times do we glance at our mobile devices and observe its pinging or illumination? Do we experience fatigue from inactivity?

The current environment we find ourselves in encourages us to achieve our goals by being busy in constantly looking around for information. Starting with notification on laptop/workstation/mobile. All of them try to get our attention, whether it is work-related or social. These services are incentivised to keep our gaze on them continuously. This happens with applications on our mobiles, laptops, or even TV and printed media. The content is meant to make us check them again to get that dopamine satisfaction.

“Stolen Focus” a book by Johann Hari that explores the causes and solutions of our attention crisis. It is based on his three-year journey across the world to interview the leading scientists and experts on this topic. He argues that our focus has been stolen by powerful external forces, and that we can get it back if we fight for it!

The book talks about forces, which are stealing our focus. Few of them are:

  • The rise of consumerism and advertising : mass production and mass consumption created a new culture of distraction and dissatisfaction. Advertisers learned how to manipulate our desires and emotions, and make us crave more and more things that we don’t really need or want.
  • The fragmentation of our work and leisure : Our work environments have become more stressful, demanding, and interruptive, with constant emails, meetings, and deadlines. Our leisure time has also become more fragmented, with endless entertainment options competing for our attention.
  • The design of social media and smartphones : Technologies are deliberately engineered to hijack our attention and make us addicted to them. They exploit our psychological vulnerabilities, such as our need for social approval, our fear of missing out, and our curiosity for novelty.

This book has provided me with an understanding of how the focus is being diverted, given the limited time available, and the importance of identifying how resources are being wasted or invested. The book provides additional insights into not only problems or reasons to lose focus, but also helpful tips to avoid them. The more I explored the book, the deeper I went and got a deeper understanding of this subject.

Definitely a good read, and highly recommended. Checkout summary below in my mind map.

Join my reading challenge Sumit’s 2023 reading challenge | Goodreads


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