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Trying for the umpteenth time to improve my concentration

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Back in 2009 I read the Shallows by Nicholas Carr

That book changed my life. It's essential thesis is that the internet is distracting and the more you surf you the web, the more your ability to concentrate declines. Over the last 9 years I've been on a rollercoaster of trying to improve my concentration. I go through periods of strong willpower, only to backslide back into distraction. I remember there was one month maybe back in 2012 where I only visited news sites maybe 5 times. I tried all these tricks to get myself to improve, including keeping stats and setting goals for myself. But when you're keeping stats by hand, it's always hard to keep that up. Most of what I've learned from Carr's book, I took to heart and have not yet unlearned. I have a policy of not debating with people on the net, not sending email to strangers, not putting comments on webpages, keeping twitter and FB to a very low minimum. One other key detail is that I don't have an employer breathing down the back of my neck telling me to work harder. I work night shift at a hotel and it's just me and one other guy and all my computer programming is voluntary. Since I have no deadlines to meet, it's quite easy to just check the latest headlines.

One thing though that I am quite proud of is that I am one of the only people I know who does not own a smartphone. (When you're bachelor I guess you can get away with it, but if you were married I can see why living without a smartphone would be impossible). I really don't take incoming calls. When my boss calls me in to cover someone else's shift, he'll call me on facetime. There are only two other people I talk to on the phone and we just have it set up that I call them. Other than that all the messages I get from banks, doctors, the IRS I hear from them through snail mail or email. Another technique I tried was using an internet blocker that could only be removed if I got up, walked about 100 yards, and got the password from a piece of paper. For some reason, if the password is long enough and if you make no effort to memorize it, you won't. I did this for about two years with varying success. I don't do it anymore but I might go back to it because my websurfing is starting to get out of control. In spite of all this I'm still not satisfied with my level of focus so I've decided to take action for the umpteenth time. With my new programming skills I can now automate and keep stats on all my computer behavior. I'm going to start keeping track of how often I take my focus off work and try to shoot for some sort of goal. For some reason, if I take stats and set a goal for myself I'm more motivated.

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May 2022

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