The lost art of concentration: being distracted in a digital world Part VIII

Reading for pleasure

One thing that many people who feel they have lost the ability to concentrate mention is that reading a book for pleasure no longer works for them. We have got so used to skim reading for fast access to information that the demand of a more sophisticated vocabulary, a complex plot structure or a novel’s length can be difficult to engage with. Like anything, single-minded attention may need relearning in order to enjoy reading for pleasure again, but close reading in itself can be a route to better concentration. To help that, read from an actual book, not a screen: screens are too reminiscent of skim reading and just turning pages will slow your pace. Read for long enough to engage your interest, at least 30 minutes: engagement in content takes time, but will help you read for longer.

Digital apps

Somewhat ironically, digital apps may have their place in monitoring, managing or restricting digital time, but bear in mind that they still keep you connected to digital devices. Better perhaps to wean yourself away from excessive digital use by doing something alternative: read a book, go to a movie (where turning off phones is required), take a walk, eat a meal without checking … basically restore some sort of self-discipline through the benefit of alternate activities.

But if you must turn to a digital solution to solve a digital problem, try these: track usage with Moment; access Facebook limiter; go Cold Turkey; try Stay On Task; use the App detox blocker; or break phone addiction with Space.

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