The future belongs to people who can control their attention

It’s embarrassing to admit but last week I unlocked my phone an average of 80 times a day. It’s even worse when you include the fact that I don’t use my phone at all for 25 hours in a row on Shabbat. So for 6 days it’s actually over 90 unlocks per day.

I sleep about 8 hours a night. I’m awake for 16. 9016 is 5.625.

5.625 unlocks every hour or every 10 minutes I’m awake.

This is my first time calculating it but now that I have, it scares me. Even scarier? I know I’m not an outlier. It’s an addiction like any other and we need to recognize it as one. The only difference between it and “traditional addictions” is that on the other side its product managers and tech companies trying to drive those numbers up.

How do we win?

I strongly believe that the future belongs to people who can control their attention and not get distracted. It’s becoming harder and harder to stay focused, so those who do manage to conquer their Instant Gratification Monkey will be rewarded handsomely going forward.

I have introduced some rules into my life that do help limit time on my phone: leaving my phone out of the bedroom, strictly keeping Shabbat every weekend, and using apps like Forest to lock my phone for short periods of time. But it isn’t enough.

Unless we have intrinsic motivation to do some deep work (along with breaking bad habits), we’re going to lose to the habit-forming models that keep us hooked to our phones. In other words, we need to find productive things that we get lost in for hours rather than keep pushing away our phones.

The question to answer is: When was the last time you enjoyed working on something so much that you forgot to eat or sleep?

Figure out a way to make that your primary work and there’s your antidote.