#193 Why you can’t focus with Johann Hari

Warning: Today’s episode contains strong language

I’m chatting with Johann Hari today, the international bestselling author of ‘Chasing the Scream’, ‘Lost Connections’ and the latest book ‘Stolen Focus’. 

Today’s conversation is fascinating. I often find myself opening tabs and not remembering why I opened it, or walking out of my house and having to remind myself why I’m leaving. I naturally assumed it was just me. Overworking and undersleeping is bound to have this effect, but there appears to be something more insidious going on as Johann explains in todays episode. And if you’re like me, you’re definitely not alone.

There are 5 core ideas that we explore today:

One: Your attention didn’t collapse - it was stolen.

Two: If your Screentime shows that you spend more than three hours a day on your phone, then you are losing far more than just time. Your brain can only produce one or two thoughts in your conscious mind at once. We’re very, very single-minded.

Three: The covid crisis has flipped many of us into a state called hypervigilance, which is ruining our focus.

Four: The way we eat in the Western world is severely damaging our attention and focus.

Five: We can only get out of this crisis if we respond as individuals, by making changes in our own lives and our children’s lives, to protect ourselves from forces invading our attention. But we also need to campaign for more humane technology, forcing them to adopt a different business model that isn’t reliant on interrupting, distracting and monetising our attention.

We talk about:

Our ‘attentional pathogenic culture’

Switch cost effects

Tapping into flow states

Reading as a gym for empathy

Universal basic income

And of course, technology

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