What follows is my RFL for September just 15 days into a “Going Short and Deep” experiment I jumped into somewhat impulsively this month —an impulse I am now glad I gave in to! My goal was to cut back smartly on the time I spend online (which has been substantial). If you have the same goal but this is the first you are hearing about this, I encourage you to read this first and then come back here: Going Short and Deep, a 90-Day Experiment.
This past August 23rd was the 4th birthday of Talking Story.
I had a web site up for my business before August 23rd of 2004, however it was little more than an online brochure back then.
Therefore, I have always thought of Talking Story as the first born of what today is known as Ho‘ohana Publishing (HP), the publishing arm of my business that I refer to as Writing with Aloha, which is the tagline of HP. Since this blog was born HP has flourished in several different ways, with Managing with Aloha and Joyful Jubilant Learning as just two more sites in the family, and you are likely to hear about some current-generation reinventions quite soon.
For now however, this all serves as intro to what has become fact of life for me: I spend a LOT of time online. Our Ho‘ohana Community has blossomed into a very global one, and I think of the web as my backyard, one in a very large, fascinating, and dynamically changing neighborhood. It is a Sense of Place I could never have imagined I would have until it began to play out: This a great place to be.
A Mantra to Keep: Attention With Intention
Still, our attention may be one of the most valuable things we have, and I was finding I needed to honor mine.
You have seen this both here (in connection to the value of Ho‘ohana) and on Joyful Jubilant Learning this month (in connection to the theme of Citizen Publishing) and I think it is worth repeating, a definite keeper in my learning this month:
We each have a two-fold decision to make about our personal use of the web:
A 90-Day Experiment Seeking Attention Focus
In short, my 90-Day Experiment was to cut my time online down to only three hours per day and no more.
I feel this intense need to concentrate better, to think better, to stay away from the equivalent of energy bars and fast food meals, and to simmer within focused, intentional concentration on my work (on my Ho‘ohana).
My attentions right now are all over the place, at all times of day,
and I have to pare down, quality over quantity, going short and deep
with my learning.
Less choices, smart, careful choices, and each revered. Each intensely savored.
I have heard from several of you who have decided to dabble in a similar experiment of your own, and so I thought I’d log some of my early observations just 15 days into it.
Perhaps you can add any of yours?
1. First, I should have done this a long time ago! It is working for me because of the way my own daily rhythms seem to happen. I am a big planner, one of those people who likes to map her next day out by charting it with a review of the calendar the night before. Plotting my 3 hours is now part of the game for me; it’s become fun (and I am not one to ever discount having a bit more fun however I can find it!)
2. It may sound like a lot to others, however 3 hours is pushing it for me. Thus it forces me to prioritize. My aimless web-surfing has already been eliminated simply because I run out of time if I obey my self-imposed clock in timing this.
a) I needed more flexibility to click online at the best-possible times that presented themselves for it in my work context, and
b) it would defeat the purpose to web-surf aimlessly again when I had any extra time.
However, the 3 hours ended up to be a good guess with that “20 that gets you the 80.” When I average out the results of these last 15 days, the 3 hours is proving perfect for me. The days I have gone overtime I have gotten distracted more than needing the extra time.
Thus instead of calendar blocks, I switched to using a 3-hour timer that I can click on and off as I click online and offline, similar to the way an hour-glass works. Much better.
Photo Credit: "Day 29 of 265, I’m Watching My Time Go By" found on Flickr by Jill Greenseth.
4. When I am online, I now use multiple tabs in one browser window via Firefox. When I close a tab it means I am completely done with it. Explained how this strategy works a bit more in this comment conversation with Thadeus.
5. I suspected my RSS feed reader would be an early casualty, and sure enough, I have abandoned it because my other online choices are proving to be all the portals that I need. For example:
a) My own blogs serve as my portals for those in the Ho‘ohana Community who want my attention (and to be quite frank, those who are engaged in MWA and deserve more attention from me). There is an obvious connection back to HP and to my initial goal with this experiment: more focused, intentional concentration on my work (on my Ho‘ohana).
b) A by-product of my conversion from Outlook to GMail as my email client a year ago is that I am no longer gun-shy about email subscriptions; with the processing filtering I use in GMail I prefer them. For more on this strategy, visit Nick Cernis of Put Things Off to read Ditch The Digital Itch: Drop Feed Readers Today.
c) Twitter and Tumblr are other very useful, one-stop-shop kind of portals for me. Now this could be a post in itself, and I recently wrote an update for JJL about Twitter: Micro-Publishing your Personality with Twitter. This goes back to intention; who do you follow in social media apps, and why?
In the spirit of RFL ~ top 5 lessons learned, stream of consciousness ~ those would be it, and I am very pleased with my first 15 days!
- I am respecting my own planner tendencies and daily rhythms, getting them to work for me. Element of simple-pleasure fun should not be discounted!
- Forced prioritization means there is no room for procrastination or for distraction and rabbit trails. However…
- I can allow for interruption and taking advantage of those times when opportunity knocks using the hourglass method of time-keeping. Auditing the 3 hours invokes the Pareto Principle too.
- If something got my attention in the first place I deal with it until I have a good sense of closure with it (which may include indexing or bookmarking it for later with better annotation habits.)
- I have swapped RSS feed reading for selectively chosen portals.
The experiment continues.
Postscript: If you liked this article because of the better productivity spin, you will want to include this resource page within your bookmarks too: MWA3P: Productivity and Working with Aloha.