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It’s not easy to focus these days. The economy of attention is rising, and every treasure we can find on how to concentrate better has value. But I also value the reason why we wish to focus. One of these treasures is a comment from the philosopher Bertrand Russell about the answer his mathematician friend Alfred North Whitehead gave to his complaint that he had not answered a letter,

«justified himself by saying that if he answered letters, he would have no time for original work.» (in Editor’s Preface of “Process and Reality” by A.N. Whitehead)

Alfred North Whitehead
Alfred North Whitehead

This comment is more real now than ever in the email age.

Originality strives if we pay enough attention to it, but the age of information turned into the age of distraction.

Originality strives if we give enough time to it, but all the digital tools whose purpose was to provide us with more time for what matters, consume most of our time.

We don’t have to follow every news, answer every email, and see every new show. That would mean surrender our minds to the interests in the minds of others.

If we value our capacity for being original, we should pause to give ourselves enough time to let thoughts flow through our minds.