Last week I did something counter-productive. I switched off my computer at 10am. Switched OFF.
This meant that, after ten in the morning, I couldn’t do any writing on the computer, I couldn’t edit any of my works-in-progress, I couldn’t connect with people online, I couldn’t work on my blog, I couldn’t promote my book or advertise my English classes.
By switching off my computer so early in the day, I successfully cut out 99% of my capability for productivity.
How on earth could this help me become more productive?
Before starting this rather drastic computer-diet, I used to be on my computer all hours of the day. Some days I would be tied down for as much as 7 hours 34 minutes.
How do I know this? I signed up to RescueTime, which logs what programs I use and what websites I visit. RescueTime tells me that about 3 hours of that was spent on email, on reading the news, on social networks and on entertainment. Less than two hours per day (on a good day) was spent on writing.
So the plan was that, by cutting off my computer-use at ten in the morning, I would be motivated to get up earlier and do more writing.
The rest of the day, when my productivity dips anyway (RescueTime tells me that I’m 50% productive in the morning, but only 48% productive in the afternoon – with a 50% reduction in time at the computer as well), I would be able to get out into the world.
I would teach, I would go on adventures, I would read and think and cook and perhaps do some writing with pencil and paper. I would, in short, become more human and less virtual.
In the last week, when I was on my CompuTen diet, I averaged less than 2 hours of computer-time per day. Great!
In addition, because my computer-time was squeezed, I became more efficient at doing the important things. Like social networking. I found that I still spent 20 minutes a day on Facebook or Twitter or Google+ (whatever that is).
And I spent significantly less time on the less important things like writing – just 2 minutes 23 seconds last Friday, for example.
Wait. That doesn’t sound like the plan. The plan was that I would get up early and write like hell for as long as I could, until the 10am cut-off time.
What actually happened was that I would wake up, somewhere between half seven and eight, and immediately get stuck into email and news-reading, pretty much until my alarm went off at 10am. This isn’t the healthiest thing in the world.
So what went wrong?
So what went right?
|Neo: The One.|
- I can resist the computer, if I have a concrete rule of when I can use it and when I can’t.
- There is nothing so urgent that it can’t wait until tomorrow.
- Multi-tasking is a killer.
- I will only use the computer for 25 minutes at a time.
- Before opening the computer I will write down the goal of my activity. One concrete, defined goal, so that at the end of the 25 minutes, I can answer the question: Did I achieve my goal?
- Having just one goal should eliminate multi-tasking, but to make it easier on my will-power, I will only have one program running at a time (when building the links for this blog post, I nearly got distracted by another review of The Impact Equation – but stopped myself just in time!).
- At the end of the 25 minutes, I will close my computer and walk away – no matter whether the goal is achieved or not. I can always set a new goal and work for another 25 minutes, after a short break.
- If the computer task is likely to take less than 25 minutes – DON’T DO IT. I will batch these tasks until I have enough to fill 25 minutes. Email falls into this batch as well.