I discovered last week that I’m much more productive when my computer isn’t in front of me.
It was an accident really. I had papers to grade, and when I got into the office in the morning, I just sat down and got to it.
In the process, I was not distracted. I didn’t feel the need to knock people’s socks off with jokes on Facebook and I didn’t find myself wandering off to read people’s complaints about my favorite college sportsball team on sportsballteam.com. I was also more likely to let text messages go unanswered when they weren’t popping up on my computer screen. For whatever reason, I’m happy to let my phone wait. Eat it, phone.
There’s a larger theme here that I’ve uncovered for myself over the past year or so, which is that I need to get more selfish with my work time. Do Not Disturb is looking more and more like the most important feature on any of my devices. It’s otherwise too easy for an interruption to send me ricocheting all over the Internet.
Friend sends a text message about meeting up for dinner sometime. 4-hours later I wake up in the gutter, covered in AppleScripts, a beta release of Taskpaper in my pocket, and my intentions shattered into tiny fragments across the road. Watch your step until we’ve had a chance to vacuum the area. Some of the pieces are very small, and very sharp.
Which brings us once again to Facebook.
Ah, Facebook. My favorite thing to complain about. What would I continually threaten to quit if I didn’t have Facebook? How else would I daydream about getting more done? Well, switching to Taskpaper, for one thing.
Quitting Facebook seems like it would be a really simple way to get large parts of my life and mental bandwidth back. Without worrying about saying happy birthday to someone I sort of knew in 3rd grade, I might be able to focus on doing something in the present.
There are plenty of studies pointing to problems caused by Facebook, that I know, or at least I suspect, that I would be doing myself an incredible favor by just deactivating the stupid thing.
Not only does it serve as a distraction, but it also toys with your emotions. When going on Facebook, you are embarking on an emotional surf safari. Catching delusions of grandeur from some dumb joke or feeling left out by your two Facebook friends on vacation in Croatia, even though you haven’t seen them since middle school and it’s their honeymoon.
Even right now, while I’m writing about it, my brain is trying really hard to command-tab over to Safari so we can get some cheap happy brain squirts. I’m fighting it, but all it would take is being momentarily distracted by just about anything for my brain to automatically pull up Facebook and start mashing that rediculous “Like” button over and over again.
Mash blue button for happy. MASH MASH MASH. Wipe drool from chin.
Since taking Facebook off of my phone a few weeks ago, I have felt a little less nuts. I’ve been in trouble with friends and family less. And it’s been awhile since I’ve lost large swaths of time scrolling through the increasingly bizarre and frightening political beliefs of the people I’ve collected over there.
I know I’ve made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal. I’ve still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission. And I want to help you.
– HAL 9000
Now that I’ve come this far, I think I’ve talked myself into deactivating. At least until February. I want to see how much of a difference that I notice, and I’m curious about whether or not I will miss using it.
Look Dave, I can see you’re really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over.
– HAL 9000
- Pick a date to deactivate
- Inform the people that I’ll be deactivating on said date
- Avoid fiddling with Taskpaper again
Here goes…wish me luck.