Digital Attention Pollution
Each day, on average:
- We check our phone 47 times.
- We receive 121 work emails.
- We get 48 notifications on our phone.
- We see well over 500 online advertisements.
We are bombarded with stimuli that stop us from focusing on the present. Ads, notifications, and messages are all competing for our attention. Some of it malicious, some of it just poorly engineered features.
Like smog filling the air, making it difficult to breath – this Attention Pollution is cluttering up our lives, with costs to our mental wellbeing and productivity.
Every time your attention get’s diverted, it takes your mind away from your focus.
If you are trying to work on a project, then attention pollution can rob you of your productivity. Notifications and stimuli that alert you, tricking your body into thinking they are the most important item at hand.
Even if you are not trying to be productive, attention pollution can make it difficult to enjoy the present. Hanging out with friends, playing with your kids, or even just taking in the moment by yourself, can be interrupted by digital polluters.
How To Reduce Digital Attention Pollution
You’ll never be able to stop all interruptions in your life, but thankfully it’s possible to drastically reduce them. Below are some tips.
Use AdBlock – If you are using Chrome or Firefox as your main web browser, you can install the extension AdBlock. It will automatically scan and block web advertisements on every webpage you visit. It’s free, and you’ll wonder how you browsed the web without it.
Reduce Phone Notifications – Both Android and iOS devices have a notifications control settings menu. I personally only have notifications turned on for actual phone calls and text messages. Every other app requires that I specifically launch it to review any alerts.
Leave Phone Plugged – Instead of carrying your phone with you at all times, try leaving your phone plugged in at home or work. The mere act of not having it on you can force you to stop the habit of continually “checking” it.
Respect Emails – Email really can be a tool for good. I’ve written about simplifying it before, but the main point is to use it with respect. Don’t send emails to colleagues if you don’t need to, and be selective about lists you subscribe to.