Mind Like Water

Taking back my productivity

I realized today that I have lapsed back into the habit of keeping gmail open so that I will know when I receive a new email. Why is this a problem? It leaves my productivity at the mercy of whoever feels the need to email me at any given moment. They are not in control of my inbox... I am!

In fact, I have made an attempt to remove as many automatic notifications as I can from my life, in order to take back my productivity. Here are some examples:

  • I used to keep Thunderbird open all the time, so I knew when I got a new email. Hoewever, that meant my eyes were constantly glued to the task bar, waiting for that lovely new mail icon to show up.
  • I used to set my phone to check for mail every 15 minutes.
  • I used to have about 10 or 15 sites I would visit regularly, just hoping somebody would post an update. The first thought in my mind, when logging on to my computer, was what haven't I checked today?
  • What might have changed in the last hour? Where can I go to read something mindless and counterproductive? Needless to say, this all was a big time sink.
  • I used to have Hulu keep track of every new episode that was released for every show I watched. That one was horrible/// I felt obligated to watch an hour of SNL skits because if I didn't, they would pile up and I'd never get through them.

What do I do now?

  • I (usually) only open gmail when I need to check in for work, or when I am expecting an important email from a client or team member from a school project.
  • I turned off all email notifications on my phone. I have to manually check for email if I want to view new messages.
  • I unsubscribed to a majority of email newsletters, and added RSS feeds for any site I wanted updates from regularly to Google Reader. Ideally,
  • I only check my feeds once a day, but it usually ends up being two or three times a day. I have also come to love the "mark as read if older than a day" feature in Google Reader. That gets rid of the feeds I didn't read, so I don't feel obligated to read them to catch up.
  • What's the result? I'm more on task. I am in control of what information comes to my attention, and when it does. I own my productivity.