I’m trying to get better at using my time consciously. For me the difficulty in doing this is usually in front of the computer, not the TV (where it used to be, in high school and college–“wait, how many reruns of Friends did i just watch in a row?”). Now, I just keep clicking. Clicking on Google Reader, Twitter, Facebook, newspapers, Wikipedia … and at some point I look up and I say, “Whoa, where did that last hour go?”
Sometimes it will happen when I’m supposed to be working. A page will be slow to load, and so I’ll open Reader in a new tab to see if anything good came in. And 15 minutes it’s like, “Right! I didn’t mean to get caught up in all of this.” And then it’s back to work. That’s terrible for my concentration and focus.
But this isn’t solely about being productive or using that time to work necessarily. It’s about choosing to spend the time web surfing instead of just falling in to it. If I’m going to spend an hour having fun or doing nothing, then it’s a lot better to choose that going in to the hour in advance.
My attempt to try to address this problem was to unpin Facebook and Google Reader from my bookmark bar at the top of my browser. This is a small gesture, since it takes about four keystrokes to get to the sites anyway. But not having them in the bookmark bar has forced me to recognize that I’m pointlessly going to Google Reader and do I really need to go there right now? And that’s enough of a “waitaminute” moment that I then have to choose whether I want the break or realize was just going to the site out of reflex because I was temporarily bored for 5 seconds. (I’ve left Twitter in the bar because I actually use that regularly for some work stuff).
The goal with this actually is to start thinking of my laptop as a work computer and my iPad as the fun computer. If I’m on my laptop, it’s work. If I’m on my iPad, it’s fun: Facebook, Google Reader, SimCity, whatever. Yes, both computers can do both work and fun things. But I’m slowly trying to train myself.
The theory is that I’ll get more work done on the laptop and I’ll have more fun on the iPad because I’ve consciously chosen to do work or have fun, instead of living in a weird in-between land.
We’ll see how it works.