Attention

A Maker’s Ethos in the Era of Networked Attention

Once upon a time, we faced the scourge of Information Overload. Too many emails with too many details producing too many open loops to keep track of. But now we have a new challenge: the Information Apocalypse. Not only is there far too much information to consume or manage, much of that information has now…

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Emergent Strategy: Organizing for Social Justice

When I moved from San Francisco to Oakland in 2014, I was just trying to pay cheaper rent. I never expected to be influenced by the movements that flow through Oakland’s veins: the movements for social justice, for environmental justice, and for black liberation. I’ve since had the privilege of working with some of the…

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PARA Part 6: Small-Batch Projects for Focus, Creativity, and Perspective

In P.A.R.A Part I, I argued that the Project List was the lynchpin of modern productivity, serving as a dashboard of your current commitments and the bridge between actionable and reference systems.

But formulating a Project List is also one of the most difficult exercises for most people to complete. And I’m not the only one to notice. David Allen has written:

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Progressive Summarization: A Practical Technique for Designing Discoverable Notes

Modern digital tools make it easy to “capture” information from a wide variety of sources. We know how to snap a picture, type out some notes, record a video, or scan a document. Getting this content from the outside world into the digital world is trivial.

It’s even easier to get content that is already digital from one app to another. We know how to copy and paste text, save an image from a webpage, archive an email attachment, or import a video file.

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The Topology of Attention

It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that my work is really about attentional design. Becoming aware of attention. Shaping and directing it. Shifting its quality and inner experience. Leveraging it to produce work of real value. Tell someone what to do, they might be more productive for a day. Tell them what to pay attention…

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The World Beyond Your Head: How Distraction Shapes Who We Are

Matthew Crawford’s book The World Beyond Your Head (Affiliate Link) is the most important book I’ve read in quite some time. It makes a sweeping argument about what it means to be an ethical, autonomous human in the digital age. Crawford draws a strong connection from the distractions buzzing on our phones, to the evolving…

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The Inner Game of Work: Focus, Desire, and Working Free

I’ve become obsessed with coaching. It started in February, when I started the 4-month Self-Expression & Leadership Program at Landmark. I was assigned an accountability group and a coach, who guided me through the process of planning and executing a community service project. That process included learning how to communicate a vision, how to recruit…

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A Theory of Unlearning: Ecstasis, Anamnesis, Kenosis

A year ago in Productivity for Precious Snowflakes, I introduced the idea of Mood-First Productivity — that our moods, or unique states of mind, are fundamental drivers of creative knowledge work. But something was missing: how does one advance in the practice of Mood-First Productivity, besides noticing what mood you’re in at any given time, and trying…

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The Throughput of Learning

Learning in the 21st century is not about acquiring more information, knowledge, or even insights. The goal is to maximize the throughput of invalidated assumptions. But you have to get there one step at a time. When you first start learning, early in life, there is a bottleneck in the amount of information you have…

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Bending the Curves of Productivity

Originally published on the Evernote blog To learn more, check out our online bootcamp on Personal Knowledge Management, Building a Second Brain. Consider a typical working session of a couple hours. You set aside the time, silence your phone, and clear your desk, determined to finish some Work of Real Value. We know that time…

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Meta-Skills, Macro-Laws, and the Power of Constraints

Nearly every science-fiction novel seems to agree on one thing: in the future, work will be indistinguishable from art. Such wide agreement suggests that work is far more than a means of income generation. Even in a robot servant utopia, with all our practical needs taken care of, human work will still have a purpose….

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