Tagged: attention


Live and work in a quiet place. Soundproof your home. Wear earplugs, shooting muffs, or sound-canceling headphones. Take refuge in nature.

Frequent exposure to noise increases heart attack risk by as much as 50 percent. Frequent exposure to noise also significantly impedes learning. One study found that “reading skills are markedly delayed in children exposed to high levels of aircraft noise. A mere 5-decibel increase is enough to delay learning by up to two months.

Conversely, by spending time in nature, you give “top-down directed-attention abilities a chance to replenish.


Further reading:

Berman et al. 2008. The Cognitive Benefits of Interacting with Nature

Craig Childs. 2009-06-25. Perfect Quiet. PSMag

Sorenson et al. 2012. Road Traffic Noise and Incident Myocardial Infarction: A Prospective Cohort Study


Do the things external which fall upon thee distract thee?

Remove everything not needed for the task at hand. Hide objects in boxes, drawers, and closets. Wipe your desktop and free it of ensnaring icons. Close unnecessary programs. Close and hide tabs (F11 in Chrome). Conceal folder links (Control+Shift+B in Chrome). Use minimalist text editors like Q10 or TypeWriter. And so forth.

Eliminate the various voices, sounds, smells, passersby, faces, books, alerts. Stop reading, listening, talking, doing. Starve your senses, empty your mind, and silence the “chatter in the skull“.

Abstract your life. Reduce your possessions. Go paperless and digital. Avoid busyness and limit concurrency, completing open projects, winding down commitments, finishing half-read books.

Take pity on your primate brain, your fickle and finite attention. As a programmer would a program, as a designer would a dashboard, bury the details in subsections, expose only the parts at hand. Abstract—”and cease to be whirled around.


Further reading:

Marcus Aurelius. Meditations

Dave Bruno. The 100 Thing Challenge

Vivek Haldar. 2010-12-30. Minimalism is not a viable intellectual strategy

Andrew Hyde. 2011-05-03. Extreme Minimalism

Tim Kreider. 2012-06-30. The ‘Busy’ Trap. NYT

Shunryu Suzuki. 1970. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. Wheatherhill

Amy Unruh and Paul S. Rosenbloom. 1989. Abstraction in Problem Solving and Learning

Alan Watts. 2000. Still the Mind: An Introduction to Meditation. New World Library