David M. Levy’s “Mindful Tech: How to Bring Balance to Our Digital Lives”

Recommendation by Fabian, co-founder of BTN, for your next read.

This book is for all of those feeling increasingly overwhelmed and stressed out by the responsibilities of their online lives. It offers a practical guide to being more relaxed, focused and efficient while online.

Author David M. Levy, who lived in both the Fast World and The Slow, created a university course on ‘Information and Contemplation’ in 2006 to address challenges such as information overload and attention fragmentation. This guidebook builds significantly upon the exercises, reflections, and takeaways of his students.

Beginning with an introduction of to the two forms of attention, task focus and self-observation, the author highlights how self-observation of our thoughts, emotions, and body is key to improving our digital craft. He continues to explain the three attentional skills (focusing, noticing, choosing) and underlines their importance for when we go online. 

The first part of exercises in his book encourage the reader to become more aware of the digital technologies we use every day (e.g. email, Facebook, or texting). Practical strategies for staying focused on these tasks are: establishing and monitoring your intention, using breath and body awareness to focus and relax, slowing down, or establishing physical and temporal boundaries. 

The second part of exercises focuses on observing multitasking and how it tends to make us distracted and less productive. Studies show that only 2.5% of the population, so-called ‘Supertaskers’, are able to perform two task without getting stressed and having to suffer a reduction in the quality of their work. For the rest of us, it is recommend to focus on a single task, because we are more efficient and produce higher quality. Apparently, it takes on average 25 minutes to return to a task once we got distracted from it (Our brains need this time to disengage from one object of focus and to engage with another, which is thus referred to as ‘switching costs’).

Personally, this read helped me to regain control over several aspects of my digital life and, thus, increased the quality of my life both on- and off-screen!

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