Attention

Trailhead: Mark Manson. "The Attention Diet". markmanson.net (2019-06-27).

In short—because I wasted so much time and attention today, unironically—being able to reserve time and attention is an incredible skill to have. Some days it's the only skill worth having—today, for example. I feel like I'm standing outside a train station watching the day recede into the distance, wondering how and why it could be going away so quickly. It's frustrating. It feels bad every time and I vow not to waste the next day. Then the next day gets wasted. And it feels frustrating and bad again. And on and on and on in a vicious cycle.

I'm not very concerned with productivity. Productivity has its place, but my entire day is not spent in a factory producing something. I'm not being measured constantly—not by myself, not by others. I don't want to reserve my attention for more production. I just don't want to invest my attention in trash.

I suppose it's no coincidence that I was thinking about it earlier this week when Oliver Burkeman's newsletter came out (see: Undistracted). There are so many easy ways to burn time and feel lousy about it. It's easy to fragment attention—spend a little here, and a little there, a thousand little bits sprinkled around so that it all gets spent and doesn't accumulate enough in any one place to account for anything meaningful. There is no shortcut to fixing that. I wish there was a shortcut to fixing that.

Instead of indexing things like I thought I might do this week, maybe I need to index time instead. I don't think that's a long term thing to do—it feels oppressive to account for everything, constantly—but maybe as that day recedes into the distance again, I could understand how and why, and maybe feel satisfied in the time, or at least know what I would change.

"Mindfulness" sounds like a square on a buzzword bingo card, but I'm willing to believe it has some utility in the real world. To be able to hold a moment in your mind and consider it before it goes away—as it goes away—is to consider the value of that moment. To consider the value of that moment might be enough, honestly. The moment doesn't need to be filled with anything to be valuable. It certainly doesn't need to be filled with trash.

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