Stolen Focus by Johann Hari

Stolen Focus

Stolen Focus is a thought-provoking book that explores the growing crisis of people’s inability to focus their attention for extended periods. The author presents data that suggests students switch tasks once every 65 seconds, while adults in offices tend to remain focused on one thing for just three minutes. The book sheds light on why our attention spans have been dwindling for decades and how technology accelerates this worrying trend.

The main themes of the book include the hidden mechanisms of social media and how they manipulate our attention, the urgent attention crisis sweeping the globe, and the need to reclaim our focus and capacity to live meaningful lives. One of the biggest contributors to inaction on big issues such as climate change is the lack of focus. When attention breaks down, problem-solving breaks down.

What I Liked

I loved the balance of providing day to day tactics while still acknowledging that we’re quite outgunned. The biggest suggestion is don’t fight…just log off when you can.

What I Did Not Like

There were plenty of quibbles here and there. But overall, the book is excellent.


  • speed reading life = less comprehension
  • slow down to improve focus
  • flow comes from monotasking on a singular goal that is meaningful to you and is at the edge (but not beyond) your abilities
  • flow makes you bigger, deeper, calmer; fragmentation makes you smaller, shallower, angrier
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