Attaboy.ca

Over There (in the UK)

October 24, 2005 at 6 PM

On Accomplishment, Or, To Put It Simply, Getting Things Done

Writer and all-star Internet guy Paul Ford writes about distractions on 43 Folders, a site which itself is all about how to get things done.

I’ve been working hard lately, but no matter how hard I work on, well, work, I know that I could be using my time better. I could be writing on my blog. I could be making a better portfolio. I could be starting that web design blog and writing on it. I could be researching topics to write freelance articles for magazines. I could be walking around Nottingham taking photos.

What I find myself doing instead is exactly what I think every broadband-enabled web geek like myself does: surfing. Non web geeks sometimes ask me “what do you surf? I never know what to look at on the web.” It’s a fair question, but lately I’m starting to think I would pay for such ignorance.

Mostly, I read. I read lots of news, especially since I’ve stopped buying ink-on-dead-tree newsprint. I read lots of blogs. Blogs link to other blogs, and I find myself constantly rushing to Wikipedia to satisfy the continual rush of random questions that pass through my head. I also scan for new music, spending a great deal of time finding it, downloading it, listening to it.

I don’t own a TV these days, but even if I did, I don’t think I’d ever bother turning it on — my time is already full of distraction.

Ford talks about using a dumb keyboard or WordPerfect for DOS to write. Just text on a monochrome screen. No distractions. “My average daily word count has doubled as a result, and my stock of fresh ideas seems to be replenishing.”

It’s truly extraordinary how much information the Internet holds, and 99 times out of 100, I would say it’s improved life. Overall. I’m not ready to disconnect, and frankly, I couldn’t do my job if I did anyway. I am starting to think more though about getting things done. Regimenting my day a bit more. Designating a time for this and a time for that. A time to write to my blog, the silence of which lately I find embarrassing.

If you’re a productive person, share your secrets. How do you keep curiosity at bay? How do you plug the gushing pipe of infometania?

And lately I’ve been working hard to become more productive. I’ve started quit every application that isnít relevant to the issue at hand and tried my damnedest only to allow the good distractions to come in the door, rather than to let the broad, wide world in at all times. I try not to multitask when I can help it. I think of this as “Amish Computing.” You push the worldly things away because they distract you from your goals.

I need to follow this advice.

Comments

Hm. How to be organized. I think my approach has to do with the to-do list. I find the to-do list a source of pain and pleasure - the joy of crossing things off, the pain of watching it grow. So I’m always driven to focus my energy on the things that will make the list shrink, if only to relieve my own distress. But as to what to do if the to-do list doesn’t cause you nearly-physical pain? Mmm… Gold stars? Lolly pops? Demerits? Dunno.

Emma | Oct. 26, 2005 — 11 PM

WE HAVE A PULSE!

Yes, I also must practice this hamish computing. Email me, send me an instant message, and create a WikiPedia page about it if you find the cure.

Brett | Oct. 28, 2005 — 12 AM

Try the art of “structured procrastination.” Google it, you’ll find essays.

Not that its helping me right now.

| Feb. 19, 2006 — 12 PM

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