Several years ago, Matthew Crawford published Shop Class as Soul Craft, a great book about materiality, skilled labor, and the meaning of work. Now, in between fixing motorcycles at his Richmond, Virginia shop, he's working on another book on attention:
[A]ttention is an extremely important resource, as important as the time we each have at our disposal. Attention is a good, but it is rapidly depleted by a public space saturated with technologies that are dedicated to capturing it…The book I am writing is a warning against the massification of our spirit. To have any intellectual originality, you must be able to extend a line of reasoning very far. And to do that, you have to protect yourself against an array of external distractions....
I think manual work, almost any form of manual work, is a remedy. Cooking, for example. To prepare a fine meal requires a high level of concentration. Everything you do at each stage of preparation depends directly on the activity itself and on the objects, the ingredients.
I think this is really quite smart, though it's worth noting that an activity like cooking is manual and skilled: it requires attention to detail, to process, to time, and thus is likely to be engaging in a way that manual activities like assembling watchbands or lacing shoes, probably will not be.
Cooking is also a favorite example of mine because, as I explain in the book, it's a great example of serious, engaging multitasking: not the sort that where you're doing three things that pull you in different directions, but the kind where you're juggling multiple activities that all converge on the same goal. It's the sort that Monica Smith describe as critical to human survival in ancient times.