Synopsis & Links
With social media and advertisers spending billions to buy as much of our attention as they can, we owe it to ourselves to learn how to hold onto some of it to invest in ourselves.
If you find that your attention is harder to hang onto even than it is normally, you might need an Attention Reset. These are the things I do to hold onto more of that most valuable asset I own - my attention.
I go over rules for a short but strict reset period, and also changes that I try to carry through in my everyday life that have helped me reclaim my attention to use for my own benefit.
Social media, work, games, and countless other things pull our attention away from where we want it to be applied.
What we can do about it:
These are my own rules: each person will need to make their own list to fit their life.
- No screens within 1 hour of waking up
- No screens while eating
- No screens (except Kindle) on the toilet
- No screens/speakers in the shower
- No screens except Kindle within 1 hour of bedtime
- Timer on for mobile games
- Timer on for social media
Reset Week 1 (strict)
- No audiobooks or TV
- No screens on walks
- No video games
- No YouTube
- Kindle okay
- No social media
Reset Week 2 (relaxed)
- No screens on walks except walking brainstorm
- Audiobooks okay
- 1 hour of TV/day
- No mobile games except sudoku, crossword, chess
- 1 hour (timed) for video games
- Educational Youtube only - with timer on
- No facebook. Instagram only for work (timer on)
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Kawai Kitsune by Kevin MacLeod
About the Ex-Gifted Podcast:
If you are a former gifted kid who grew up to struggle with basic adulting, then you need the Ex-Gifted podcast.
Host Ren Eliza talks about gifted kid burnout, and the damage that lasts long into adulthood. Damage like battered self esteem, decimated internal motivation, and a continued failure to live up to expectations even while we were placed on pedestals and alienated from our peers.
Ex-Gifted will cover failure, procrastination, imposter syndrome, and chronic anxiety and depression, and a whole lot more.
Each episode also offers suggestions to deal with your executive dysfunction in adulthood so you can rebuild the systems that allowed you to shine so brightly in childhood.
We’re making exceptional children into functional adults.
If you, um, have trouble with... Wait, what, are we talking about? Oh right- focus! Um, this is Ex-Gifted.
Welcome to the chaotic organized podcast. I'm Ren Eliza , I'm in the middle of doing this co-working session with my discord group, go over to the chaoticorganized discord channel. I've got a link in the show notes for it. You can join and you can do these coworking sessions. I do one every week on Tuesday morning, in my time.
This is the only time during the week where I have two hours that are just dedicated to doing this stuff. So it's really, it's pretty good to have that so that I don't basically just indefinitely neglect to do it at all.
I do today have some notes because what I want to talk about is What I call an intention? Nope, that's not right. What I call an attention reset. The attention reset is what someone else might call a dopamine detox or dopamine fast.
I'm not going to get into dopamine right now. I'm going to do more about dopamine and attention and all that stuff people like to talk about. And, yeah, it drives me bananas. I hate it. But I will do that. It's just that before I do it, I want to actually have citations, because if we're going to talk about neurotransmitters and chemicals and science, I feel like it would be nice to actually have some, some science behind it, but clearly that's just me.
I'm not going to talk about dopamine today. I'm just going to talk about your attention - my attention, really, because I'm going to go through things that I do when I'm having trouble holding onto my attention and the things that I do to reclaim my attention.
I've been doing this for a while, but I had the thought recently that these big tech companies are spending so much money on keeping as much of our attention as possible. And so it occurs to me that if my attention is that valuable, I'd really like to hold onto a little bit of it for my own uses.
And really in my opinion, attention, not time is our most valuable asset. Because I can sit here. Like I'm a writer, right? I can sit here "writing" that's air quotes, if you're just on audio, I can sit here writing for an hour and if I'm not paying attention to what I'm doing, I'm not going to get anything done I have to have my attention on what I'm doing in order for the time to be worth anything. Time without attention is useless. It's wasted time. So. If we want to put time into something it's important for us to also know how to put our attention into it.
And I actually even just went over it in the co-working session this morning, before we start the coworking sessions, I have been talking about the kinds of things that I do to get my attention on what I'm doing before I start doing the thing. But what I want to talk about today is the attention reset, which are ways that I regulate my attention on a longer timescale.
So the reset is a shorter portion of that. It's a two week period that I use when I realize that I'm just becoming completely frazzled and it's just that everything seems harder than normal because my attention is just all over the place.
Everything takes longer than it usually does for me. So there's a one week period of kind of the really strict, attention reset. And then another one week period of kind of loosened rules, adding things back in slowly in a regulated kind of way.
And then the long-term rules. Basically, I'm going to be honest. I do not always stick with them, but the idea is that these are things that I am just changing in my lifestyle and that they are permanent, always rules, not just something that I'll do occasionally during a reset. I actually think I want to start with the everyday rules, because if you're kind of scared off by the idea of the strict reset then these everyday rules will be extremely helpful to follow even without doing the reset.
The reset is something that I just like to do because it's, it's kind of more tangible, right? It's something, it feels like I'm doing something for a limited time period. And I do them repeatedly. Just I'm about to talk about periods for just a second. Just very briefly, you can skip forward like 30 seconds if you want to miss it.
I like to do my, start my strict reset on like the first day of my period. I'm taking things easy anyway, during that time. That ends up being like a week of extreme boredom, but in a good way, because I'm trying to reset my attention and boredom is one of the best things for creativity. And that's the time when I really like to be, looking for that creative spark. That's where that kind of stuff comes, comes to me best, easiest, whatever. So that's a good time for me to be bored, but you can do it anytime.
I'm going to share my rules for myself. It's extremely important to note here that your needs are going to be different than mine. Mine is based on the things that I do, the things that I know that I will give up a lot of my attention to. The things that I know that I do for excessive levels of distraction from everyday life.
And the things that you do are gonna be different than the things that I do. Edit it to be something that is appropriate for you that fits your lifestyle. That will help you. I'm just giving you my own guidelines so that you can see what kinds of things I'm talking about here.
Step one, I don't do any screens within one hour of waking up in the morning. That's what I have written on my notes here, but I should add that I also don't do podcasts. I don't do audio books. I don't do any kind of information coming at me in that first hour after I wake up. I will listen to lo-fi like instrumental lo-fi music and that's it.
I will talk with my family. I do my morning routine. I do all those kinds of things in the morning, but I don't check my emails within the first hour. I don't watch TV. I don't listen to an audio book. I don't do any of that kind of stuff in the first hour after I wake up.
Another one of the everyday. Is no screens while eating. And the idea behind this is to cultivate some intuitive eating habits that in order to practice intuitive eating, you definitely have to actually be able to pay attention to how your body is feeling while you're eating.
And you can't do that if you're on your phone or even watching TV. Usually I let my kids watch TV for lunchtime and stuff. Just, just being honest. Usually there's still a TV on, but it's not something that I am watching. My bigger problem is like putting my phone down. Making no other changes to my diet or exercise habits -just not using my phone while I eat has had a huge improvement on just how I feel in my body, 10 out of 10, highly recommend, but also I have a hard time actually keeping up with that one.
Number three. No screens, except for my Kindle when I'm on the toilet. Yeah. We're talking about talking about toilet habits today. This is kind of along the same lines as the last one. It's just a time where, you know, it's okay for you to sit there, bored for a few minutes, like do, do what you need to do and then get out.
Also no screens or headphones or speakers or whatever in the shower. This one is really, really big. And for, for this and for the eating, if showering or eating are things that you just really, really have a hard time getting yourself to do at all, then by all means, do whatever you have to do to take care of yourself. Take care of yourself first, get yourself in the shower. And if you have to take your phone, if you have to play a podcast over a waterproof speaker, do do whatever you have to do to take care of yourself, get yourself clean, same thing for eating, do whatever you have to do to get yourself, to actually eat.
What I'm talking about is going a step beyond that. I'm talking about the next stage when you are already able to do that, but you are also trying to kind of reclaim some of your attention.
And so I was used, and this is, this is one that I stick to this one and the like no screens, right when I wake up in the morning are actually things that I just a hundred percent do every single day, or I don't take a shower every day. But when I take a shower, I never distract myself in the shower anymore.
Because like, I'm, I'm a writer, I'm a creative person in theory. And everybody pretty much knows that the shower, because it's like you're standing in their bored is one of the best times that you can have creative thoughts because there's nothing else for you to do.
So what I have in the shower now, I have a waterproof notebook in the shower and a pencil to write on it. And that is what I keep in the shower, so if I have any ideas, when I'm in there, if I have my shower, thoughts and I get well, I get a lot of ideas for stuff that I end up doing on the blog and here, when I'm in the shower. But I didn't for the like six months or whatever that I was always listening to an audio book when I was in the shower. And so I, I had to change that. That one is, is a really, really big one for me.
Okay. Number five, no screens, except for the Kindle within one hour of sleeping. This one is another one that I I'm terrible about actually doing. I'm trying to get, get back to that point now, but yeah, the bedtime wind down is, has been really hard. We have a TV in the bedroom. That's really the biggest one that causes problems with that. And What I do still do that is really helpful is charging my devices in my office downstairs. Instead of in my bedroom, just having a charging station set up somewhere else in my house makes it feel like the right thing to do. And not, this is not like morally right or whatever, just it's like the natural thing to do is plug my stuff into the charging station instead of taking it up to the bed with me. I will oftentimes take a notebook and I have, on the back of my notebook, this little book, light clip on book light. So I can still do some writing or notes or whatever in bed if I, if I want.
And then number six, timer on for mobile games. So I let myself play pretty much as much games as I want on a long-term basis. I have no problems with that. The only problem that I have is. I get into that hyperfocus state. I don't notice. My sense of time awareness is complete shit. And so I don't notice that time is passing. So if I have a timer on, then I will at least be periodically reminded that time is passing.
Now the best way I've found to do this. I have an iPhone, these days. So, I don't know exactly what kind of options there are for Android anymore. Although I am certain that you can find something that works similarly. But built into the iPhone. You can set limits for certain apps or certain types of apps. I have a one minute limit set on games. And then when my timer is up, it will give me the option to reset it for another 15 minutes. Basically you start a new 15 minute timer. And then it will let me play for 15 more minutes and then it will come up again and say, oh, Hey, you've been playing for 15 minutes. Your time is up and then I'll have to reset it again if I want to keep playing. I will do it for like an hour or more sometimes, which is fine. The point is not to limit the amount of time that I'm playing. In the long timescale with the everyday rules. The point is just to remember that time is still passing even while I'm playing. And so that one is one that works really well for me, because it happens automatically. I don't have to do anything about it to make it actually, , actually work for me.
And now I want to get into what I'm doing right now, which is the strict, first week of the attention reset. Those were the everyday attention regulation rules, but now I want to talk about the attention reset rules. So, my week one rules, which are the stricter rules.
Number one is no audio books or TV. And I know that this is not a judgment against audio books. I love audio books. They are, they count as books. They count as reading just as much as reading regular books. The problem is that. So last week in three days, I listened to four full novels on audio books, which is great.
I love reading except it's like, I didn't, you can't really do anything else. I mean, you can do other stuff while you're listening to audio books, which is one of the best thing, things about audio books. You can like organize your garage. You can prep a bunch of food. These are the things that I did while I was listening to audio books.
But it's hard to like, do other things that are very important, like connect with people. And so that's why in that week one, I don't even allow audio books. I can make it, I can make it one week without, without audio books. I'm still allowed to read actual books.
It's hard, but you can do it. I mean, I can do it. I can read as much as I want, but I have to read with my eyes. The idea here is kind of to get me to slow down, reset, focus my attention on one thing at a time. And so that's why, when I'm, when I'm reading a physical book or even an ebook, I can't really do anything else.
At the same time. My hands are occupied on the book. My eyes are occupied on the book. There's not really a whole lot else that I can do at the same time, which is is the point that my attention has to be completely on the book. I can't have it split two different ways.
Number two is no screens when I go on walks and I haven't been, I'm starting to get back into doing walks now that it's like officially spring time. I generally, if I go on a walk, I just leave my phone at home and go. And the walk is just, the attention is on the walk. Is on chatting with my kids. If, if one of them is with me, it's not being divided multiple different places.
Number three, no video games. Not even Sudoku on my phone, I'm going to admit I'm probably still going to do Wordle. I did yesterday. I'm probably gonna do it again today. Wordle is so minimal that I think that it's okay. It's already self-limited. Again, this is not a judgment against video games. I love video games. I want to play more video games in general, but it's a thing that can really mess up my overall attention regulation.
And so just during this one week of reset, I don't play video games.
Number four, no YouTube period. There's all kinds of things that I like to watch on YouTube. And, but during the week one I don't do any YouTube at all, not educational YouTube. If there's something that I need. I need to specifically know how to do something that I can't really get from reading an article about it, I might watch like the one video on it, but that's, it's basically just no YouTube at all.
Number five is not actually a restriction. It just says Kindle okay. That it's, it's fine to read as much as I want. It's just, it has to be the difference between the Kindle and the audio books, which is usually a positive point in the, in the audio books is that it's basically self driving. Whereas the Kindle I have to, I have to push it. So the audio books just happens on its own, so audio books are great for that. But during this week one of the reset, the point is that I am trying to control my own attention, which means that it is a plus for the Kindle or, I mean, paper books are the same thing, because that's something where I have to use my own attention to drive it.
Okay. That's the last one for week one. Let's get into what I do for week two. It's basically the same things from week one, but with more stuff added back.
So like number one. No screens on walks except for the walking brainstorm, which is the thing where I take a walk and just basically talk out loud to myself. I'm not really using a screen at that time. I have my headphones headphones on and they've got a microphone built in. So it's just recording what I'm saying and transcribing it. So I'm allowed to take my phone with me and use it just for recording what I'm saying as I walk.
Number two audio books are okay at this point. I don't have a limit written down on here. The idea is more that I will find my own limit. That's that's kind of the point in week two is that I have to take more responsibility over it in week two. I can't just rely on what the rules are supposed to be.
Number three TV is okay up to one hour a day. And that is one hour a day of my own TV shows. It's not like my son in there watching spidey and his amazing friends, which my daughter asked the other day why I don't like it. And I'm like, "well, I can't find one nice thing to say." I finally figured out that the one nice thing I have to say about it is that my son really loves it. That's what it has going for it.
And I don't have it written here, but also like if I was going to watch a movie with my husband, like it's longer than an hour.
It's okay. Cause that's, that's the whole point, right. Is like finding ways to connect with people. And to do things that I enjoy and, that are meaningful to me. So watching one movie is fine.
Four and five, no mobile games except Sudoku, crosswords, and chess. And five is one hour of timed video games.
So I can play whatever I want, like on my computer, but like shitty mobile games that are just kind of repetitive actions that aren't, I don't know, aren't really adding anything to my life. I don't do those things in week one or week two of the reset. I can do them regularly, as long as I've got the 15 minute timer on, but I don't do them during the reset.
And the video games, like on the computer, I can do whatever I want for an hour. And honestly, I don't even usually take advantage of that because usually trying to find even an hour that I can dedicate to sitting down and playing a game doesn't happen that often.
But when it does, I've got a limit to it.
Okay. Number six, this is the last one. YouTube is okay. But only education YouTube. And only if I have a timer on to remind me. That 15 minute timer again, telling me that, and I do the same thing. YouTube, I have set to one minute per day, so I can have it remind me every 15 minutes.
So it's like self-help stuff and like decluttering and like minimalism stuff. Possibly journaling stuff. If it's something that I'm actually trying to learn a new technique or something.
And that's it. That's all my rules. I know that that was, this is a long podcast and it was a lot to just go through the rules. Again, these are the rules that I use. You can adjust them to cover whatever things you do.
It just occurred to me that social media isn't even on here. I think it's because I, I probably thought that it was too obvious that like, I can't, I can't do social media during the reset.
I generally take kind of long breaks from social media anyway, because it's, it's really hard for me to control in any kind of way. So when I, when I get started on Facebook, that's just, that's where all of my attention is. And so right now, as of a couple of days ago, I am off of social media.
But yeah, social media, I don't do at all in week one. And in week two, it's like, I wouldn't go on Facebook, but I might go on Instagram just to check comments and respond if, if necessary or to post things. And yeah, everyday rules is pretty much just the timer thing that I always have it set to one minute. So then I can do 15 minutes on social media at a time.
And yeah, that's, that's what I got. Come and join the discord group so that you can join in on the next co-working session next Tuesday morning.
Remember that you can also support the show at ko-fi.com/reneliza
Next week I will likely talk about either more stuff about attention or something very closely related to that. But I guess we'll just have to see where my chaos brain takes me huh? Until then, byeeeee.....