Productivity Experiment

I have a new experiment. Starting tonight, I’ve done the following things:

  1. Unsubscribed from all unnecessary email subscriptions.
  2. Consolidated all of my email accounts into Thunderbird.
  3. Turned OFF the automatic download and notification feature.
  4. Disabled the Gmail “You have mail!” icon in my web browser.
  5. Eliminated all unnecessary icons on my Blackberry.
  6. Turned my Blackberry to “Phone only” so it only notifies me if there is a call.
  7. Put myself on a media ” diet”. 1 hour of entertainment -only TV a day, no newspapers, only the headlines on the front page, no magazines. No blogs that aren’t directly related to the work I am doing at the time.
  8. Deleted any email in my inbox that is irrelevant (which, it turns out, is most of them).
  9. Made a to-do list for tomorrow that has only two items on it that MUST get accomplished.

Okay so I didn’t come up with this idea myself. Yesterday I spent my iTunes gift card from Santa on the audiobook version of “The Four Hour Work Week” by Timothy Ferriss. These are but some of his recommendations for eliminating the information overload in your life so you can focus on what is really important to your business in fewer hours per week, so you can get back to living your life. It’s a strange concept for the 9 to 5 culture to grasp. Of course there is more to it that just getting rid of your info-clutter, but you’ll have to read the book to learn more about that. I’m not here to pitch his book.

So does this mean I’m going to disconnect from the world? Of course not. I’m just going to connect to it on my terms. Instead of getting emails AS SOON as they hit my inbox, I’m going to only check it a few times a day and deal with them then. Timothy Ferriss checks his ONCE A WEEK! I’m not quite ready to go to that extreme just yet. I’m cutting back gradually. Like quitting a bad habit. As for my cell phone, it will still be on, and anyone who may need to reach me urgently knows who they are and they can always call me. And those email subscriptions I never have time to read? Gone-za!

The media diet is a tough one. I’m a news junkie, and today was not a good day to go cold turkey. The shocking assassination of Bhutto is everywhere, and it’s all I can do not to surf the news sites, flip back and forth between CNN and CBC, and go into blog overdose. Timothy Ferriss gets his news from the front page headlines, and by asking people about what’s going on (and, I suspect, provoking some interesting conversations in the process). I proved this theory with today’s big headline, as my friend Caroline was the one who informed me about the assassination story. See, didn’t even have to flick on the tube!

My to-do lists are usually about 20 items long. Now they have to be 2 items long. ACK! But you know what, it is forcing me to only look at what is really, critically important. And the rest, well most of the time it’s just busy work.

My experiment will eventually turn into a habit, or at least that’s what I’m hoping. My goal is to be way less busy, but WAY more productive. My only question now is, what am I going to do with all this free time?

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4 Responses

  1. Interesting and so how is this connected cold turkey experiment going so far?

  2. Not bad on some fronts – The streamlining of the email has definitely helped. I realize there is a certain amount of “training” I need to do with my contacts, to let them know that I am not on email as often. But last night I turned off my Blackberry, and didn’t turn it back on till 9am this morning. Did the world end? Nope! Everything was handled, problems were given time to solve themselves, and I was freed up to think about other things.

    The media one is the hardest- I’m a true junkie! But I’m working on it. It’s hard since there are so many captivating news stories in the past week. Maybe I need news re-hab.

    Probably my best success is putting my Blackberry to Phone Only. i’m not tempted to check it everytime a message beeps in.

  3. Well I’m impressed. I’m not sure I could do it. I certainly can’t get enough news. I guess I am addicted to my BlackBerry even though I say I’m not. I do turn it off when I get home but then I just switch to my laptop which goes with me throughout the house.

  4. Good for you, Snu. I’m very proud of you for setting your priorities straight and sticking with them. I own an old Fido phone that hasn’t been in service in close to four years. I used to have an Ottawa Vonage number. I got rid of that because no one used it. We barely use the Tronna number we have, and our main phone – Joe’s cell – doesn’t ring much. We are slaves to our email during the day, though, because I try to block customers’ access to Joe so he can get work done, and in between service calls and service work, he will take the time to respond to emails and send out custom computer build quotes. I have worked hard at training customers to not expect him to run to the phone and to send him a quick email if it’s truly important. And on top of that, I have gotten into the habit of asking customers to Google their problems and issues before they bring in their machines to make sure they have simple malware they can delete vs. rootkit viri Joe needs to clean off manually. There are many customers who happily accept my suggestions, but there is a small contingent who don’t, but I don’t worry about them because they have only started to talk to me recently after being there for months now, and despite the fact that I’m a girl. Surprisingly that’s still a huge deal for men. They only want to deal with another man because little girls or little women can’t possibly know anything about how to turn on a computer much less run one, right??!?!? *rolls eyes*

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