I’m going to do my damnedest to write this entire post without being wooed away by the buzzes and beeps of my email, Skype, Twitter (and on and on) accounts. If I can do it (oh no, there’s an email now!), you all owe me $5.
Does anyone else have this problem? (oh! another one! This is painful.) I’m trying to write a post, an article, a website – and my email is beeping at me, my phone is buzzing at me, Twitter is tweeting at me, Facebook is dinging at me. The desire to go running to each of these calls is immense. It’s my curiousity…and just a wee bit of ADD. But, all in all, it’s pretty classifiable as an addiction – I jones for the information behind the techno alert, literally. I get high off the fast pace set by my fingers, eyes and brain as I cruise from page to page on my browser and from app to app on my computer.
I’m completely convinced that if I could do what many experts, like Tim Ferriss and Stephen Covey, suggest, I would be much more productive. I’m already pretty gosh darn effective, so just imagine what I could get done in a single hour, let alone a day, if I just stayed put?!
They recommend, in their own ways, that you only check these connective activities 2-3 times PER DAY. And that you schedule these times and stick to the schedule. Whoa….the willpower that would take.
I’m making a pros and cons list:
Pros of only checking email, Twitter, phone, etc. 2-3 times per day
- Increase in productivity
- Greater concentration
- Calmer atmosphere
- Calmer mind (unless I’ve gone mad wondering what I’m missing)
- Less distraction
Cons of only checking email, Twitter, phone, etc. 2-3 times per day
- What if Oprah emails me and says I only have one hour to get back to her, but I’m not due to check my email for another 3 hours?
- I’m already shaking, and I’ve only been practicing this for 15 minutes
- Back to #1, what if I miss something really important?
- I’ll miss the frenetic pace of moving here, here, here and here – in moments.
- By the time I get to check my email, there will be a billion stacked up.
Hmmmmm….this is very interesting. Although every fiber in my being doesn’t want to go to the 2-3 times per day schedule, my only real reasons for staying with my current practices are my addiction and this completely 8th grade fear that I’m going to miss out on something.
If you read the two lists, you can see that the pros list reads slower, more peacefully, it’s almost elegant. The cons list reads like Chicken Little on crack and with an exaggeration problem. I didn’t do that on purpose – I just reread what I wrote and it became painfully clear.
Maybe I’ll try it for a week…but I’ll have to warn all of my clients because they’re used to immediate feedback. Can the world really wait 3 hours for me? This is insanity. You are all witness to a madwoman. And what about meetings? Will I have to schedule my meetings around my email checking times?
Listen, for all of you snickering out there, I don’t eat white sugar or flour, I don’t drink, smoke or do drugs, I’m terrified of internet porn (just look what happened to Duchovny), my 2 year-olds make knitting impossible….this online, internet, emailing mass of activity is my vice (and, funny enough, my profession).
FYI, there have been 20 Twitter updates, 8 emails, 2 phonecalls and 8 Facebook updates in the 30 minutes I’ve been working on this post…and I never veered off the page. And, will you look at that, I feel pretty calm, pretty good. I can check this task off my list.
Eureka! Maybe my own personal answer is this: it doesn’t have to be 2-3 times per day, but I have to abstain per each project. I like that. I’ll get each project done with total concentration, no distractions. My reward is a check into my online social/work world. Nothing will get too backed up (which would only cause further stress.)
I’m psyched and I’m officially starting now…oh, and you all owe my $5.
Anyone else dealing with this? Any good or proven bad solutions?
Join the discussion 8 Comments
I’m so there with you. Couldn’t do it. I’ve tried it too, but the call is just too loud and the need too great. Let’s face it as writers on deadline always looking for the next interesting thing, part of our work is checking that Twitter Feed and Facebook and email and our RSS feed for the latest and greatest news. If we miss it, it can have a very real and direct impact on our jobs.
So while I completely feel and share your pain over the noises constantly calling for our attention, I think we have to understand that your experts don’t do what we do, so what they recommend just doesn’t apply to us.
That and of course we are insanely curious and don’t want to miss anything. Just so you know, I was called away while I was writing this by a direct message in Twitter and an IM. My email beep just went off. Gotta run. :-)
By Ron Miller
Your Eureka! answer works for me, Julie! Checking in between projects helps reframe my mindset for disparate styles and keeps me from feeling isolated in my home office. I definitely appreciate the water-cooler camaraderie.
That said, I readily confess that it’s way too easy to get sucked up into the intertubes like a ‘net-addled Augustus Bloop. I’ve gotten tough on my web wanderings. Here’s how I divide things up:
1. Co-workers. This is the water-cooler gang. While they’re not necessarily all co-workers, they ARE my workday support network. I think messaging regularly is a healthy part of work life.
2. Work information. I comb through this in batches; anything less becomes a time-sink.
3. Enriching idea sites. This is the category I dabble in between projects, to refresh and inspire. The key here is keeping it small. If I’m not absolutely enthralled several days running, it gets moved to a personal folder.
4. Personal stuff. This is the stuff that’s off-limits during work hours. If it doesn’t directly impact my productivity, it needs to be moved to a personal folder. A constant battle to self-police, but moving the time-suckers into personal folders is a real saving grace.
Once I’m “off” for the day, I try to be pointedly conscious of changing mindsets. If I want to keep investigating work-related topics and sites and tool around on my web sites, that’s fine — but I try to get out of the office and do some other things first, so that coming back to the keyboard is a conscious choice.
I guess the bottom line is that I try to remember that I AM what I DO. If I find myself spending whole days reading and writing about Sarah Palin, then I probably need to get off my arse and get some political writing projects rolling. If I’m not willing or interested in doing that, then it’s time to get back to what *is* important to me!
Ahhh….validation from a colleague and a kindred spirit! Yesterday, Ron blogged about one of my other addictions – checking blog stats. Read it here: http://byronmiller.typepad.com/byronmiller/2008/09/im-obsessed-wit.html
Lisa – thank you for this excellent information. I love the way you’ve sorted it all out – so smart.
And funny, b/c I had the same thoughts about my time spent on political stuff…but I also have the pull towards responsible citizenry (and needing to be aware and in the know), so I’m trying to balance the two…
I couldn’t do it, either!
Hey, but we tried…I’m actually digging my new plan…
Julie, Julie, Julie. Because I hold you personally responsible for my newly found addictions, I now turn to you for help! Thanks for your thoughts… I like the Eureka! conclusion for myself, too. Discipline. Willpower. Ugh.
Let me know how it plays out for you…so far, when I do it, it’s worked very well for me.