June 25, 2006
In a world of 43Folders* and dozens of other blogs that worship at the altar of Getting Things Done, it's a little surprising that nobody has taken aim at the #1 enemy of productivity everywhere: The Internet.
Do you spend so much time obsessively keeping up with the latest ninja tips on productivity, programming, and time management that you run out of time to actually Get Things Done?
If so, you're not alone.
I have a wee problem with procrastination. The internet, and chain upon chain of fascinating links, is never more than a keystroke away. It's a problem.
Sometimes I truly think I'd be more productive if I disconnected my ethernet jack.
All things in moderation, I suppose, but it's hard to sip from a firehose of information.
* Soon to be a book, I'm sure.
** Reprinted from Asher Sarlin's Elephantitis of the Mind
Posted by Jeff Atwood
But internet is also a great resource. Every time I get stuck on some difficult programming problem, I hit google to find some answers. And more often than not, I find useful information somewhere.
It's also great when I need to do something that I have never done before. I find it extremely helpful to look at available examples, and code snippets before I start working on a new project.
Not to mention support groups and forums where you can get in touch with all sorts of experts, and get helpful advice.
Sure, keeping up with all the blogs and webcomics hurts my productivity but it also is a very useful research and communication tool.
Just like with everything else, it's all about self discipline.
jeff - did you draw that? who knew you had such artistic talents?
It's ironic that I am reading this instead of getting on with my (mind-numbingly boring) task of string externalisation...
(and no, we can't automate it - 90% of cases are special cases :S)
"it's hard to sip from a firehose of information"
thats one great line, man...I enjoy your blog tremendously...thanks!!
I had no idea that Jeff was so old, if indeed that picture is accurate. Also, I didn't know they had the internet on typewriters.
@doomedforsuccess: I don't think that it is the garbage that takes our time, so that you have to spend hours to separate signal from noise (ok, maybe when you're browsing MSDN; these are things like this blog, e-mail, IM and hundred other things that interrupt your work/think-flow.
Did anyone check http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_boxing ?
Ops, that's a wrong link. I was thinking of time boxing technique (a relatively simple one) where you say: I'm working on this piece for the next 2 hours. No mails, no slashdot. And after you finish, you give yourself some prize, like a lunch or slashdot visit...
...and here we are checking out codinghorror.com...back to work!
I do that do, although usually it's a better idea to go, I will *finish* this sub-objective before giving myself a prize, rather than set a time amount, that way you're driven to work at a reasonable pace.
I agree. When I seriously need to get work done, I turn disable the wireless and things tend to move along better.
I agree entirely... when I designed my website, I did it with very little resources and no internet connection. None. The Internet is truly a distraction to productivity.
And I find this on my feed reader on the morning I am supposed to be filling in my half-yearly self-appraisal form. No wonder the guy at the next desk gave me a funny look, for bouncing quietly up and down.
Oh! I am not alone. I do not remove ethenet cables I just disable them. This I find easy rather to bend and remove the ugly cable.
Jason: absolutely! I didn't know who the artist was. Thank you, lazyweb!
Get an AlphaSmart word processor and go sit at a coffee shop or under a tree in the park. Your productivity will sky-rocket.
I go to the Library to get things done. Not only is there no Internet connection, but you can't even get up to go to the bathroom without packing up your whole computer so you learn to hold it. ;)
woo internet woo!
woo! it's like vegas in my lap, without the herp.
I often have to set a rule for myself: No surfing for a week. Then when I get bored I have work instead of surf.
I want one of those willpower headbands like what they have in Star Wars video games. Who needs GTD when you can just wear a headband? :)
I too work at the library when I need to get things done (especially on RubyCLR). The good thing is that there is Internet at the library but only in the form of public access terminals. I can still get answers to questions via the terminals. But my current project *requires* access to the Internet so my productivity is, um, suffering :)
Your right, I am spending way too much time here. I'm deleting this site from my RSS reader right now. Cya!
The problem is that now we depend so much on the internet. Can't disconnect the internet, because two minutes later I need to google for some trivial problem or something.
back in the 1906's (yes i sorta remember the decade) there were high priced prep schools (the movement started in England, IIRC) where the students weren't required to attend class or study or anything. but they couldn't leave the campus. and there were no video games, etc. the first few weeks, they had a spree. but, in fact, they eventually focused. and were more so than their regular school peers. no idea what happened to such schools.
segue to 1983 (or thereabouts): M$ makes Word, and Apple does its thing. lots o studies (i'm too lazy to look em up again) have found that PC "productivity software" has had the opposite effect. folks find it more fun to worry about the look of the text than the meaning (or lack) of the text.
internet and blogging just continue the trend.
so, yes; unplug if you want to focus on the task to hand. few of us have such tasks.
Make a poster of this and sell it. I swear to god you'd be a rich man in a few weeks. It's awesome.
I love the drawing. LOVE IT.
If you drew that you are my new hero!
i just hope some of the bandwagon-hopping masses that plague the internet take this to heart and unplug. Maybe so much time wouldn't be "wasted" if there wasn't so much "garbage" (you know.. information posted by all of these these internet hipsters) to sift through before finding something 1) relevent and 2) worthwhile.
Thanks to the Internet, I now know that I'm not the only one who's having a problem with procrastination. It makes me feel less lonely. Thanks so much, Internet!
I've often thought it would be handy to have a browser plug-in where I could just tell it to block sites I have marked up as not work related during work time.
I keep meaning to write it, but then I end up going and surf round the internet for a while instead....
When I add up all the times Unca Google has saved my bacon after I code myself into a tight spot, I figure it more than makes up for the few minutes of internet lovin every day.
Maybe dev teams should review URLs visited by each member at their weekly status meeting (the corporate firewall probably has a record). Everyone would know where you go, so you'd have a little conscience about where and how often. It'd also be a good way to share useful sites with other team members.
There are days when I only do about 30 minutes of actual work... the rest of the time I'm digging, emailing or something else. When your job is mind-numbingly boring, it's nearly impossible to avoid the net. For me it serves as a work sedative, and my day flies by so much faster (although less productively).
Use a HOSTS file to create a soft block to all your favorite time consuming, non-work related websites (which is at c:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\etc\hosts)
In fact I have codinghorror in my hosts file as :
I can still read codinghorror at work, but I have to edit the file, close and reopen the browser.
And I can still read it using web based rss readers. Maybe those are the next to go on my hosts file list.
I can tell you that I have indeed unplugged my cable jack and it made a HUGE difference.
You really should try it.
My problem is: Without internet, I'll most probably end up daydreaming. :O
actually, nowadays, without internet, we are goners......I mean, some people have faraway friends and talking to them by letter or phone would be too much of a long time, some people have projects and it involves pictures of things they had never seen before but know what it's called........but people shouldn't get addicted, I agree.
This is one of the greatest pictures I have ever seen in my entire life. You sir are a master of art!
yeah well i'm meant to be doing some work and i got on the internet to search for it and instead i'm sitting here writing this comment while my friend goes through a book for information! good old internet!
i physically unplug my ethernet cable when I really have to get things accomplished.
That reminds me of my favorite secretGeek quote: Placing an anti-procrastination tool on the Internet is like hosting an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting inside a brewery.