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Intentional Attention (Part 2)
Episode 7414th June 2022 • Financial Planning for Entrepreneurs and Tech Professionals • Mike Morton, CFP®, ChFC®
00:00:00 00:20:04

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In part two of our conversation regarding your time and its value, Matt and I discuss the concept of intentional attention. Your time is a limited resource. How often do you find yourself scrolling through your phone on social media, clicking on videos and generally winding up down a rabbit hole? Suddenly, you look up and three hours have passed. Probably more than you’d care to admit, right? 

You’re not alone. Forty seven percent of Americans identify as being addicted to their cell phones. So how do we quit the habit?

Think about your time as currency. You are paying Facebook, Instagram, Twitter…whatever your guilty pleasures might be, with your time. That’s not all you’re spending. You are also paying them with your information which is fed to advertisers. Billions of dollars are spent and received keeping your eyeballs glued to your screen.

How can you spend less? Be intentional. 

  • Organize your tech habits - make reading lists in your browser or folders in your email that you store articles or other materials you’d like to read at some point. Schedule “reading” time to go back and choose what you actually want to spend time reading.
  • Set a curfew for your screens and put them away (out of sight, out of mind) during downtime.
  • Make a schedule and stick to it. Give yourself a prescribed amount of time for scrolling, tweeting, reading…whatever it is you enjoy but set a timer and stick to it. 

The overall question you should ask yourself is “am I getting value from this activity?” Or, in other words, is it worth your time? Be intentional with your attention.

Transcripts

00:00 Matt: Welcome back to real financial planning, broadcast on Excel available, wherever you get your podcasts. All right. For our podcast listeners, you have had no interruption. You know that I'm still Matt Robinson the host of this show, you know that Mike Morton Morton financial advice is still here. For our radio listeners, you may have had a little interruption there. It may have even been a week-long interruption. might've heard the first part of this episode. If you missed it, go back to the Capitol closeup podcast feed, or you can leave the podcast, same thing. This shows in both of them, financial for entrepreneurs, and you will catch the first part of the show. We're talking about one of the most precious resources. In the universe, which is your time, actually a totally non-renewable resource. How you focus your time. It's just as important for your financial planning and your general life planning is any other topic we discuss. And we're specifically talking about all the things in modern life that grab for your attention. Specifically phones, but also the stuff that you get on your phone, social and news. I don't know, maybe like to play Wordle, whatever it is. All right, Mike, we were just talking about some of the things you can do if you think, Hey, maybe I do want to focus my time. A little bit better. And I was backing you up on your suggestion that you could just determine, here are two hours where my phone's going in the other room and I'm not going to touch it. What else have you got?

01:33 Mike: I liked your suggestion on intentionally crashing your browser. I'll tell you the story yesterday. Of course. Suddenly it froze and shut down. And you're like, I'm in the middle of my work and multiple things open, but computers, these days it came back and everything started opening up. All the apps opened up, up. They remembered where I was. And then of course, all my browser tabs all opened up and I felt so good. Everything is still there.

02:00 Matt: The trick is if you want to hack that it clues your brow. Open it again, the tabs come back and then close it again. I find that usually will wipe all but because I don't have, I don't have the nerve to hand close all the tabs if I have to do that, then I say to no, I really do need that to no, you

02:23 Mike: What was in that I was happy to have tabs back, but here's a trick on your thing, because you mentioned reading like oh, I was going read those tabs and I find that like stuff would come into my inbox some articles or newsletters and things that. I want to read. And so now what I'm doing is filing that stuff. So either filing the emails or you can use your open it in the browser and hit, add to re. They have a reading list or reading thing. And then what I find is the same as an episode I did with Megan recently about a week to buy something. Oh, before you click buy, just put it on your wishlist and then just wait. Same with the reading like oh, I'm going to read this article. put it on my reading list. Guess what happens? I don't actually have to read it and you know what else? I didn't really miss it. I didn't read it. And if I do want to read it, it's right there waiting for me. I know exactly where to find it at the end of the day or the end of the week. can go to my reading list and see, see those 10 or 15 things. And then go ahead and read the ones that I actually still want to read at that point. So get it off of your inbox, get it off your to-do list, throw it on a list somewhere else. And most of the time you won't even have to spend five or 10 minutes reading it. You won't care anymore. And if you do it's right there waiting for

03:35 Matt: Yeah, that's a spectacular idea. And it does go hand in hand with, again, that kind of batching principle that I learned the time course of if you're there, that is a flip side of all of this, which is I will put on my schedule. Reading Tom. And it's a little bit of a luxury, but it's not really because I need to do it as part of my hosting. I need to know what's going on. I'm going to have a round table show and I will intentionally batch. All right. Now I'm going to read and I'm going to clear. My inbox and I'm going to clear tabs in my browser and I'll just, I'll take them off. And, sometimes I will go through and I'll say, yeah, I didn't really need to read that much, but I'll know that it is there. =And I also keep a file of things like that. I want to use it as references for the future. And it's a word file and I'll go back to it occasionally. But do find if you want to get something positive out of the distraction and attention economy, just be intentional. And if you're going to spend that time then really it and ] there's actually a south park about this, where they invent a device to help shut out the world. And really all it is a cardboard box that you put over your head. So you can have some alone time with your phone. That's what looks like there, satire has a point, which is. If you're gonna, kind of out in the world and have some alone time with your phone, then do it. But do it for a prescribed amount of time where you're really gonna do it. And you're intentionally doing it.

05:10 Mike: That's the whole point this episode really is being intentional with your attention and not getting distracted. The stat is 47%. Americans would say they're addicted to their cell phone. Okay. And so we want to come up with some practical tips about things that we can do. If you feel like you want to be more intentional with the use of your phone, what are some things you can actually do? We've mentioned this already, but I'll mention a few. That I've tried with success as well. I'm a curfew for your screens. I think in the evening it is a really great practice, not only for the addicted nature screens, but actually for sleep. That could be a whole nother episode. I'm not an expert on sleep, but I certainly play along on a TV. and I have also listened to a bazillion podcasts about sleep and read a bunch of books. Because it's so important to live a great life. So definitely have a curve. Four screens and getting that light and having your mind racing with things you're enjoying reading and clicking on social media or whatever it is. So put down your device at a certain time. Every evening. Another tip: leave your device in another room. Put it in another room, have it charging in another room, have a station where you always leave. Make sure it's in one spot. This is great with the kids too. Hey, we always leave our devices charging here, in this location. leave it out here. We're not using them during these times. Anyway, it's in the same spot, so they're not losing it. They're not disappearing from their rooms, who knows what they're doing on their devices. So have it charging in a certain spot. It's really great for adults as well to have a spot, not in your bedroom, ideally where you've left your device charging. So there's a couple of things. Practical ways that can take a step forward today to try to have better, more intentional use of your phones and your screens.

06:54 Matt: What about, there's an aspect of this that I think we've all unfortunately become very familiar with in the past two years, there's a certain unavoidable aspect of work life. These days, where you're frequently in meetings that are on zoom or some other platform I'm not zoom per se. They're all terrible, but they're all terrible. The point is that I feel drained. I feel terrible. After a long set of zoom meetings. I'm not sure why that is, but what can you do about that?

07:24 Mike: Yeah. There's, depending on your work situation, not a ton of things you can necessarily do and be like, Hey, you know what? just, I'm dialing it out with these today. I'm too tired. I'm not going to attend these meetings today. But there is research. 81% of adults in the U S that use video calls, 40% of them say to your point, Matt, they feel worn out and fatigued by calls. So being on screens all day, we all know we felt that zoom fatigue, oh, One more zoom meeting. And so again, being intentional, I would look at your entire Hey, how many, many work calls do I have? Where are they showing up? There's a bunch you won't be able to avoid. You've got to go up and show it should be on the screen, but maybe they're around the edges things you can do. So in the evening you are going to go out with some friends, but have zoom calls all day. So you don't want one more screen thing you're like, Hey, you know I'm just going to hang out. Whoever's in front of me or my family, or reading a book or something else. So definitely take breaks from the screen as much as you can, but you might have to schedule that more for a longer time.

08:27 Matt: One thing that that reminds me is that. When you're on a zoom call for work, you are in theory. Most of the time, I hope you're being compensated for your time. You're being paid to do that part of your work, you are on a screen. And particularly when you're on social media or some other platform that is trying to get your time and attention. What's really strange. This is just a personal bugaboo of mine. Is that essentially giving your attention? There's a financial transaction. There's money being made out of the fact that your brain, your eyeballs either way are engaged in that screen, you're not making the money. Isn't that crazy what's happening at that moment. You are on social media and first of all, FA let's say you're on Facebook. I love picking on Facebook. Who does it? So let's say you're on Facebook. Facebook is making money because they're selling advertisers on your eyeballs on the fact that you are spending that time there and they're putting ads there. You're not getting paid for And you're also giving up in many cases. Your personal information, that information you are, your demographics, what other sites you visit, cookies that show up on your computer because you've gone to Macy's dot com and then you go to New York times.com. Hey, there's an ad for. Macy's. Why is that? It's because they're tracking you and your personally identifiable information, that information has value. If you don't believe there's an entire economy of companies that are their entire business model is trying to put that information together and create profiles about you. incredibly valuable to advertisers. you any money out of that? No. One of the things you love. In economics, it is when there's an economic value to. something That is not being captured. It creates a problem in the market and the quickest way to solve that problem is to have someone get ownership of that value. In this case, guess who has ownership, it's Facebook or whatever it is you're on. And the whole point about zoom and how you spend time with your phone. It just brings to mind another way to think about this is it's not just. That these things are time away from you could be with kids, or could go outside like a big poppy says it's that you're actually implicitly paying them. You are paying them. There's money. Being that's changing hands and you're seeing none of it. You're paying people to do this to you. And so your point is, do you feel refreshed? Do you feel good? you get some value out of this? What Facebook would say is you're getting a free platform. You're getting to do whatever it is on Facebook and it's free. It's not free. Nothing is for free your pain with your information and your. And the question is, are you getting value? And I promise you in most cases, you're probably not. And so anyway, to the extent that helps anyone to think about this in a new way huh, I'm actually paying them for this activity instead of something else. I commend that to

12:02 Mike: Yeah Yeah. That's pretty, that's an interesting way of thinking about it. I like those two things, one, just understanding what we are spending. I love that, that you're spending time, attention, resources, and you said, Matt, you. Are you getting value? And there might be value there. I used to think I'd spend time on Facebook. And so I'm connected with people that I wouldn't normally connect with. So I go and see them in real life, again, it's oh, we can just up the conversation. Cause kept up what's going on, in their family life or whatever. And it turns out. may have been a little bit true, but the amount of time it took me to get that little value oh, I might see this person months from now or a year from now. And I know what's going on in their life. that really wasn't that valuable. Like I could just get up with them and for five minutes and figure that stuff out. And so the amount of time it takes me for that value, really there. I'm just saying, about the value you're getting for the time you are spending. Is it really valuable to you or not? And the other thing that reminded me of as you were talking was that, the economic value someone's paying, it reminded me of, again, a Superman, was it a Superman too? He's getting the half pennies, he's all the half pennies. So if someone's out there collecting half pennies and collecting that economic value that you are contributing.

13:18 Matt: Yeah, it adds up. Look, just remember. In Facebook's business model, you are not the. customer. You're the product. And if just bear that in mind, but you know it does also bring to mind something you were hinting at before, is the alternative. And I think that's another thing that kind of economics informs one's about is that there's income. =If I'm getting into weeds here, income effects, substitution effects. I think it's also helpful to think about this as compared to what? So if you're struggling with finding the pool of the phone or screen, whatever it is, the engagement machine, drawing you to its siren, call. One thing, it strikes me that you could create attractive alternatives for So as part of that intentionality, it's not just, Hey, put away your phone now, sit in silence. Don't do anything. What I'm going to do. I'm going to schedule something really focused on. I'm going to go play a game of horse with my kids. I'm going to go to the supermarket right now and maybe I'll listen to a podcast. That's fine. But I'm going to at least know whatever it is, , whatever else find to be a value, maybe it's making the alternative more attractive, not just making the phone less

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15:14 Matt: Even if it's a matter of, again, I L I like your idea of, intention, it, even if it's a matter of. If you're trying to kick a sugar habit, what are you going to do? First of all, you're going to try to substitute foods that are attractive to you. So you're not going to go cold Turkey and only eat celery. You're going to eat cold Turkey, with some bacon, because that's an attractive alternative. And you're gonna have a little bit more of that as your treat, maybe you're going to have some fake sugars, maybe your. Do not go to cold Turkey. You're going to say, look, instead of a big bowl of ice cream, going to have a little bowl of ice cream. I'm not saying that this is something that I personally do, but that's actually something that I personally do. have a set size bowl that I will allow myself. It is a small bowl. And so it's not it's not like I'm having none. It's not like I'm giving up entirely. It's and again, I, that kind of fits in the idea of. don't think either of us is saying, throw your phone in the river. Again, I'd rather go out without pants. I'd rather throw my car in the river. I don't want to do that, but you can also improve how you spend your time on the phone as well. You can be more intentional about it. Maybe you're on Facebook, but you're not just like randomly scrolling you're maybe you're going on there and trying to pick up. are the friends that I haven't connected with in awhile, I'm going to send them a message. I'm going to, I'm going to say, hi, how are you doing? Maybe I'm going specifically to read about something that I want to learn about. There are steps that aren't like full measures.

16:47 Mike: Yeah I also think when it comes to the phone and feeling naked without the phone I feel the same way. What is it that is actually about that phone to have it with me. And I think that's the next level step that you can think about in terms of what are the apps on your phone? What do you actually need to use it for? If I'm Randomly checking an email or just going to social media, I've got five. Is that really bringing me a lot of value to be doing that? Whereas if I can be, you know, text, like get directions to where I'm going that brings me a lot of value. Like wanting to end up in the Right. spot. So having the maps app or being able to text for emergency situations or being available for my kids to be in touch with me, text or phone, that's really important. And so you can be more intentional. How you use your phone and the apps that are on your phone that are bringing you value, especially when you're out and about. And do you need to be checking certain things or want to be checking certain things versus really being available or having things that are most important?

17:44 Matt: Well, and if you've got that five minutes of time, you're saying to yourself, hold on, what's wrong with me filling up. I've got five spare minutes. You can even find a way because I often find. If I've got five minutes, it's eh, I as well scroll, I'll scroll Twitter because it's a good way to fill that five minutes. But what you could also do is think about things like huh, I haven't caught up with my friend Mike in a long time, but I'm not going to do it now. Cause now, it's been so long. I have given them a big rundown, blah, blah. You could just say, you know what? I've got five minutes. I'm going to spend one minute composing some good tech. And just, touch base, just that little piece of human contact. That's an improvement. going to get more out of that. promise. I assume anyone talking to you is going to get a lot out of it and that's what we mostly do on the show. All right. Just to wrap up real quick for like seconds. So the bottom line here is you're not telling people to totally Chuck it in the river, but just be a little more thoughtful.

18:42 Mike: Yeah Be intentional about how you're using your screens, your devices be intentional about where you are spending your attention. Think about what you say are your top values, how you want to spend your time, your energy, your attention, and are you actually doing that in these micro moments or throughout the day? And if not, how can you get more aligned? The competition for your time is fierce. So make sure you are using it wisely.

19:11 Matt: Excellent advice as always from Mike Borton Morton financial advice. Thanks so much.

19:16 Mike: Thanks Matt.

Thanks for joining us on financial planning for entrepreneurs. If you like what you heard, please subscribe to and rate the podcast on Apple iTunes, Google play Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can connect with me on linkedin or mortonfinancialadvice.com. I'd love to get your feedback. If you have a comment or question, please email me at financialplanningpod@gmail.com. Until next time thanks for tuning in!