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Forge
A publication from Medium on personal development.

Attention

In Forge. More on Medium.

🎨 Today’s tip: Level up your meeting doodling game with this fun tool.

Video calls are a great way to become acquainted with the unique contours of your own Resting Bored Face, i.e. the face you make, apparently, while spacing out in meetings. Video calls also reveal just how much you tend to squirm around at your desk.

The answer: doodling, a great way to keep yourself lightly busy during meetings. You’re engaged just enough that you don’t squirm and grimace, but not so much that you can’t focus on what’s being said. And Elizabeth Funk, a software engineer here…


No, you don’t have to optimize it. Just live through it.

Photo: Grace Cary / Getty Images

Once upon a time, a million years ago, boredom was something we grudgingly admitted we might need a little more of in our overscheduled and overstimulated lives. At the beginning of the pandemic, we got, well, a lot more. Some of us tried to make the most of it: We heard that boredom would actually help us to be more creative, more productive.

Are we ready yet to say that boredom just… isn’t that great? There’s something uniquely uninspiring about pandemic boredom, and this piece by Shayla Love in Vice unpacks why that is: Boredom is, by definition, a lack…


How to relieve your tired brain

Teenager holding a fidget spinner.
Teenager holding a fidget spinner.
Photo: Carol Yepes/Getty Images

This week, a viral TikTok dispelled the common misperception of ADHD as just a childlike distractibility (“I’m going to write this email. Oh look, a squirrel!”). The video amassed over 1.4 million views on Twitter in just over a day.

ADHD is having a moment. And it’s no surprise to me: 2020 has wreaked havoc on my own ADHD-addled attention span. Whether or not you’ve been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, you may have noticed similar effects: switching fruitlessly between tasks; trouble prioritizing; forgetfulness.

During the agonizing waiting game of the presidential election, it seemed that the only thing people could…


Time management is actually attention management

Woman checks her watch to see the time while sitting on the couch.
Woman checks her watch to see the time while sitting on the couch.
Photo: Westend61/Getty Images

Balance is as much about managing your attention as is it about managing your day. A little bit of planning goes a long way. Creating a strong outline for a sustainable schedule not only allows you to catch your breath, but it also ensures that you’re aware of how and where you’re allocating your time. The bestselling author, national news anchor, and podcast host, Nicole Lapin offers the following strategies for crafting the perfect to-do list:

  1. Prioritize your to-do list by looking at what’s already scheduled for the day and identifying nonnegotiables.
  2. Procrastinate. Put things that aren’t time-sensitive on the…


Why connection is more important, and how to achieve it

Photo: Phynart Studio/E+/Getty Images

Life during lockdown has demanded constant, unwavering attention. Zooms beget Zooms: school committees, work meetings, happy hours. They blur together, and I find myself zoning out as I nod along with the other disembodied heads.

And then there are my children, stalking me while I’m trying to finish some work, looking over my shoulder, breathing their cheesy-popcorn breath in my face, until I snap my laptop shut and sweetly say, “How can I help you, dearest offspring,” which, weirdly, comes out of my mouth as, “What do you want?”

They want my attention, of course they do. All. The. Time.


Try less

Two friends talking while drinking from gold mugs.
Two friends talking while drinking from gold mugs.
Photo: Carlina Teteris/Getty Images

In 1958, a British psychologist named Donald Broadbent posited the “filter model” of attention (also known as the “bottleneck model”). The world floods our senses with data, like a fire hose. Our brain’s ability to process this data is limited, so it deploys attention as a means to prioritize all that information, to control the fire hose.

It’s a compelling theory, one that intuitively seems to make sense. Attention, we assume, is like a bank account we draw down, or a hard drive with limited capacity. We’ve all experienced that sensation of being overwhelmed by too much information. So much…


Photo: Margeaux Walter

Lean into the unknown

There is an argument to be made that what happens during your lifespan isn’t pure chance, nor pure skill. It’s a combination of both.

To better understand how the competing forces of luck and decision-making affect outcomes amid the uncertainty of life, the writer and psychologist Maria Konnikova did what anyone would do: took up high-stakes poker and hit the casino circuit. Her latest book, The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win, recounts the journey.

Konnikova came to poker as a complete novice. With practice and diligence — and the luck of landing a…


Illustrations: George(s)

It’ll be difficult, but it’s possible

So earlier this year I was riding a janky bike alone through Burning Man’s makeshift city grid. Identical military-style tents extended into the darkness on both sides of the “street” in the middle of the Nevada desert. There was a lot of neon. I was lost.

My brain, which is a good brain full of good ideas, invited me to check Google Maps.

“No, brain,” I said, in my head. “There is no signal in the middle of the desert.”

“Sure, but have you checked Google Maps?” …


This is the eyeball economy, and your eyeballs are for sale

Illustration: Seba Cestaro

Do you want a single takeaway from the 21st century so far? Here it is: To the focused go the spoils.

Have I already lost your attention? No wonder. You’re being pulled in a bunch of directions at high speed.

Remember the medieval execution routine of tying someone to four horses, each slapped on the backside to run in a different direction, yanking the poor soul to pieces? This is now happening to your focus. Your own personal horses might well be any of the following: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Netflix, your spouse, your partner, Grubhub, Fortnite, this essay, and so…

Forge

A publication from Medium on personal development.

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