These are some notes from the book:
Attention is all around us. Once you see it, you can’t unsee it.
Magic stops being magic the moment you know how it’s done.
Tactics to read this book
- Put your phone out of sight.
- Mind your environment.
- Find a peaceful, distraction-free environment to read.
- Make a distractions list.
- Use pen and paper to collect ideas / thoughts for later, to avoid losing focus.
- Question whether this book is worth reading.
- View descriptions of books, TV shows, podcasts, etc as “pitches” for your time and attention.
- Ask yourself → After consuming this, will I be happy with the investment?
- You are what you pay attention to.
- Grab a pen.
- There are 2 ways of consuming information: passively and actively.
- Stop when you notice your mind wavering.
1. Switching off AutoPilot mode
AutoPilot mode enables us to keep up with life’s demands (Automated decisions).
But some decisions are worth making deliberately. How we manage our attention is one of them.
Directing your attention toward the most important object of your choosing—and then sustaining that attention—is the most consequential decision we will make throughout the day.
The four types of tasks
|Productive||Necessary work (meetings)||Purposeful work (the tasks we are put on earth to do)|
|Unproductive||Unnecessary work (cleaning up)||Distracting work (social media)|
2. The limits of your attention
- Meta-awareness: Becoming aware of what you’re thinking about is one of the best practices for managing our attention.
- Mindfulness: Notice what your mind is full of.
There are 3 combinations of tasks that can fit well inside our attentional space:
- A few small, habitual tasks (Walking + Breathing + Music).
- A task that requires most of our attention, as well as a habitual task (Simple video game + Audiobook).
- One complex task.
At any one time, your attentional space should hold two key things:
- What you intend to accomplish.
- What you are currently doing.
Put advice into practice
- Set intentions more often.
- Modify your environment to be less distracting.
- Overcome then mental resistance you have to certain tasks.
- Eliminate distractions before they derail you.
- Clear the distractions inside your head.
- How much of your time you spend intentionally?
- How long can you hold your focus in one sitting?
- How long your mind wanders before you catch it?
3. The power of Hyperfocus
Steps to HyperFocus
- Choose a productive or meaningful object of attention.
- Eliminate as many external and internal distractions as you can.
- Focus on that object of attention.
- Continually draw your focus back to that one object of attention.
How to set Stronger intentions
Setting specific intentions can double your odds of success.
“I’ll go to the gym and workout for 60 minutes at 08:00Am“ is way better than “Going to the gym”.
Staring a Hyperfocus ritual
- Set how long you want to Hyperfocus for.
- Anticipate obstacles ahead of time.
- Set a timer.
4. Taming Distractions
Once you become aware of how frequently you interrupt yourself, it’s hard to go back to working the same way again.
Four types of distractions/interruptions
|No Control||Meetings, Chats||Visitors|
|Control||Email, Notifications||Twitter, Whatsapp, etc|
Two modes of working
|No Control||Deal with, get back on track||Enjoy!|
|Control||Deal with ahead of time||Deal with ahead of time|
1. Distraction Free mode
- Use a distraction blocking app (for Twitter, Email, Reddit, etc)
- Turn on
Do not Disturbemode
- Phone out of sight
- Mate drink 🧉
- Noise-cancelling headphones
2. Regular, Reduced-Distraction working mode
Setting a specific time to focus on distractions (email, twitter, phone, etc) transform them from distractions to purposeful elements of your work and life.
- Never attend a meeting without an agenda.
- Question every recurring meeting on your calendar.
- Challenge the attendance list.
- Hyperfocus on meetings.
Try disconnecting completely for a period of 24 hours this Sunday.
Simplifying your Environment
You should eliminate objects of attention from your environment that will potentially derail your focus:
- Make a list of all potential distractions.
- Remove the from the room.
- Introduce more productive cues.
- Clean Up.
5. Making Hyperfocus a Habit
Meditation and Mindfulness teach you to focus for longer periods of time.
- Meditation → Focus on a particular task (Breathing).
- Mindfulness → Be present in the moment.
Incorporate Meditation and Mindfulness in your life
To meditate, sit down and focus on your breathing for a given amount of time each day. You can use an app like
Headspace to guide you.
To practice Mindfulness, pick a single daily task and be mindful doing it (Pay attention to everything that is happening). Example: Eating a meal.
Your mind will wander during both practices, this is completely normal.
Maintain your Focus
Match your tasks to your skill level
- Boredom occurs when your tasks are too easy.
- Stress occurs when your tasks are too difficult.
Increase the number of high-impact tasks you do
Evaluate how much time you spend doing low-impact tasks. If it’s higher than you like, increase the number of high-impact tasks on your plate.
6. Understanding Intentional Mind-Wandering
“Scatterfocus” = Intentional Mind-Wandering
Deliberately leave a lot of room in your working memory, which causes your mind to wander.
- Mind-Wandering helps you plan for the future.
- Mind-Wandering increases our creativity.
- Mind-Wandering lets us rest.
How to Mind-Wander intentionally
- Perform a fun but easy task (walking).
- Schedule time to record your ideas (two 15 minute blocks per week, just you, a pen, and a paper).
7. How to Rest your brain properly
In order to be productive you need to be properly rested.
Instead of viewing breaks as a waste of time, view them as an essential element of being the most productive, healthy version of yourself.
- Practice Intentional Mind-Wandering.
- Get a good night’s sleep.