Staying Focused in a “Human Attention Power Grab” World

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Whether it’s cute cat videos or shocking (and sometimes untrue) headlines, we’ve all found ourselves “down the rabbit hole” of distraction. We suddenly realize how much time has passed, and that we have abandoned important tasks to take an “infotainment journey“.

“Today’s tsunami of digital distractions can pose challenges to the neural networks that regulate attention.”

Staying focused in the era of digital distractions, Harvard Healthbeat

It’s happening because there’s a mad grab going on for our human attention. There’s money to be made in winning our views (with shocking or compelling content) and swaying us to make our buying decisions NOW. And advertisers have a worrisome amount of information about what we like and have looked at in the past that they can use to compel us in their desired direction.

This “human attention power grab” is a powerful force that is pulling our attention away from our intentions, our goals, and sometimes even our values.

Individuals and organizations that want our attention may do whatever it takes to get it and there is a lot of money to be made if they do. Some of what they do will be unethical and internet regulations don’t yet adequately govern the use of the powerful psychological manipulation techniques in use to get our attention online.

“I think it’s part of a self-determined life, or even building of your own character, that you are very careful about how you choose to spend your attention.”

Tim Wu, Author of The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads, quoted in How Your Attention has Become the Biggest Commodity at

To prevent us from losing the power to choose our focus, and to avoid straying from our values, we’re going to need strategies for staying aligned with values in an attention power grab world. Use the 50+ strategies in the articles below to find ones that work for you and your teams.

Staying Focused in an ‘Attention Power Grab’ World

How to Stay Focused in a Digital World, Brad Hook, Resilience Institute

5 Ways to Stay Focused in a Distracted World, Syed Balkhi, Entrepreneur

How do you avoid getting distracted and stay focused on the mission?, Trisa Thompson & Kathrin Winkler, GreenBiz

10 Ways to Stay Focused in a World Full of Distractions, Mark Pettit, Thrive Global

11 Ways to Avoid Distractions and Stay Focused, Nina Zipkin, Entrepreneur

How to Not Get Distracted: 10 Practical Tips to Sharpen Your Focus, Ericson Ay Mires, LifeHack

We need to be talking about and actively resolving the problems created by the competitive and adaptive “attention grab.” That includes strategies for overcoming distraction and staying centered, as well as regulations that limit the manipulation and hold those who manipulate accountable.

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership  

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