Not productive enough? Turn off the Internet

Four weeks ago I had 5,250 emails in my inbox. Today? 10.

What’s the difference? I’ve been on lots of airplanes in the past month. Why is that important? Because in airplanes there’s no Internet. Nothing to distract you. I find I can answer about 10x more email in a plane than I can on the ground when the Internet is there to distract me.

That taught me an important lesson.

Want to get something done? Turn off Twitter. Turn off Facebook. Turn off blog comments. Turn off FriendFeed. Turn off Flickr. Turn off YouTube. Turn off Dave Winer’s blog and Huffington Post. Turn off TechMeme.

Turn off the distractions.

Another datapoint? When I talked with Linda Stone a couple months ago (she came up with the term “continuous partial attention” which describes the kind of world we live in when we have Twitter bringing a new post to us every two seconds).

I told her I had one goal in my life, other than to be a good father and a better husband: to have an interesting conversation every day.

She said that was “attention management” at its highest form she’d heard it so far.

What are your goals? Is it to have more followers on Twitter? Or is it to get something done today?

Why can’t we get into the productive state of mind that being trapped in an airplane for 10 hours without the Internet causes?

I just sent 200 emails that I answered over the Atlantic. What a flow state I was in.

Something about being bored causes us to be more productive. Luckily I have lots more trips coming up soon, so I’ll keep up with my email.

More from Israel soon (I’m sitting in Heathrow right now waiting for my flight — of course I’m not being productive because the Internet is back on again. Damn distractions! :-) Heheh).

It might also have to do with the fact that I hate doing email, so avoid it until there’s nothing else to do. Either way, I’m productive. If you count answering email as being productive.

172 thoughts on “Not productive enough? Turn off the Internet

  1. I agree about this noise – but there are ways to look at it. Different ways for different people.

    It’s about will power and ruling the noise, not letting it rule you.

    Many people seem to not realise that there is a button on a mobile phone that turns it off. You don’t need to get rid of it, just learn how to use it properly.

    It is the same with RSS feeds, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and email…. you don’t need to shut them down, you just need to know what you NEED them for, and use them as the tools that they are – but do not stray from that purpose, and do not let them rule you.

  2. I agree about this noise – but there are ways to look at it. Different ways for different people.

    It’s about will power and ruling the noise, not letting it rule you.

    Many people seem to not realise that there is a button on a mobile phone that turns it off. You don’t need to get rid of it, just learn how to use it properly.

    It is the same with RSS feeds, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and email…. you don’t need to shut them down, you just need to know what you NEED them for, and use them as the tools that they are – but do not stray from that purpose, and do not let them rule you.

  3. ……Procrastination-Web Addiction……..

    There is a way I deal with….and it is easy…

    Install Firefox, Install LeechBlock Extension, Install MeeTimer and have a bit of determination.

  4. ……Procrastination-Web Addiction……..

    There is a way I deal with….and it is easy…

    Install Firefox, Install LeechBlock Extension, Install MeeTimer and have a bit of determination.

  5. Part of the reason I pretty much only access Twitter thru the web interface is I find it *much* easier to close a browser tab than to ignore an API client clipping along in the background.

    Just knowing its there is distracting. But if I navigate away from the page, I can forget sometimes that it’s there and GTD.

  6. Part of the reason I pretty much only access Twitter thru the web interface is I find it *much* easier to close a browser tab than to ignore an API client clipping along in the background.

    Just knowing its there is distracting. But if I navigate away from the page, I can forget sometimes that it’s there and GTD.

  7. What I feel is , Web is a boon for me to reach to the masses and become famous soon and who knows to become obscenely rich. I am working on it :D

    May be it will take some years may be after I find a girl in my life to actually feel what you are saying.
    :)

  8. What I feel is , Web is a boon for me to reach to the masses and become famous soon and who knows to become obscenely rich. I am working on it :D

    May be it will take some years may be after I find a girl in my life to actually feel what you are saying.
    :)

  9. In a recent (and related) post on Enterprise Attention Management From Craig Roth at the Burton Group:

    “If you’re one of that handful of people I mentioned, you can take real action – actually do something about information overload for scores of people in your organization…If you’re in a position to roll out RSS technology you can accelerate its entry into the organization.”

    I have a great deal of respect for the folks at Burton… they’re top-flight pros to be sure, but I’m more than I bit skeptical on the issue of Enterprise Attention Management.

    Here’s my reply to Craig’s Post:

    Nah. Sorry, not buying it. Despite investing a modest sum in one of the three Enterprise RSS vendors, I’m not buying that it is going to solve information overload… in fact, it’s likely to exacerbate the problem.

    And I’m not the only one that E-RSS has been overreaching. I had an interesting conversation with one of the junior partners of the lead VC firm on the issue (keep in mind, he was a respected enterprise architect at one point in his career). He observed that administrating feeds, enhanced security, providing a new channel for notifications, etc… were all valid value propositions of E-RSS. But his take on the whole issues of solving information overload through heuristics, and Enterprise Attention Management, etc… was that it a great promise on the surface, but would be realized any time soon.

    Also… there’s a trend afoot to simply “unplug.” As famed weblogger Robert Scoble recently asked, “What are your goals? Is it to have more followers on Twitter? Or is it to get something done today?” One commenter to Scoble’s post (entitled “Not productive enough? Turn off the Internet”) called the phenomenon “attention thieves.”

    Hat tip to Paul Chaney for noting the trend in his post “Social media pied-pipers disconnecting from the net.” He also notes that Doc Searls is giving up on blogging and Hugh McLeod is deleting his twitter account.

    To be clear, I still believe that E-RSS and social media have a valid and quantifiable value proposition… but we need to get real about solving the problem of information overload. To overreach in such a nascent arena is to hurt something that we’re all vested in.

    And finally, not to get to far afield, but I think we’re also unintentionally diverting attention away from something that holds great strategic business value: mapping the heretofore hidden networks of tacit knowledge workers. It’s equally as sexy – from a business value standpoint – and can be quickly codified through the repurposing of existing analytics/reporting packages.

    See posts here: http://www.scottquick.com/ignite/managing-information-overload-not-really.html

  10. In a recent (and related) post on Enterprise Attention Management From Craig Roth at the Burton Group:

    “If you’re one of that handful of people I mentioned, you can take real action – actually do something about information overload for scores of people in your organization…If you’re in a position to roll out RSS technology you can accelerate its entry into the organization.”

    I have a great deal of respect for the folks at Burton… they’re top-flight pros to be sure, but I’m more than I bit skeptical on the issue of Enterprise Attention Management.

    Here’s my reply to Craig’s Post:

    Nah. Sorry, not buying it. Despite investing a modest sum in one of the three Enterprise RSS vendors, I’m not buying that it is going to solve information overload… in fact, it’s likely to exacerbate the problem.

    And I’m not the only one that E-RSS has been overreaching. I had an interesting conversation with one of the junior partners of the lead VC firm on the issue (keep in mind, he was a respected enterprise architect at one point in his career). He observed that administrating feeds, enhanced security, providing a new channel for notifications, etc… were all valid value propositions of E-RSS. But his take on the whole issues of solving information overload through heuristics, and Enterprise Attention Management, etc… was that it a great promise on the surface, but would be realized any time soon.

    Also… there’s a trend afoot to simply “unplug.” As famed weblogger Robert Scoble recently asked, “What are your goals? Is it to have more followers on Twitter? Or is it to get something done today?” One commenter to Scoble’s post (entitled “Not productive enough? Turn off the Internet”) called the phenomenon “attention thieves.”

    Hat tip to Paul Chaney for noting the trend in his post “Social media pied-pipers disconnecting from the net.” He also notes that Doc Searls is giving up on blogging and Hugh McLeod is deleting his twitter account.

    To be clear, I still believe that E-RSS and social media have a valid and quantifiable value proposition… but we need to get real about solving the problem of information overload. To overreach in such a nascent arena is to hurt something that we’re all vested in.

    And finally, not to get to far afield, but I think we’re also unintentionally diverting attention away from something that holds great strategic business value: mapping the heretofore hidden networks of tacit knowledge workers. It’s equally as sexy – from a business value standpoint – and can be quickly codified through the repurposing of existing analytics/reporting packages.

    See posts here: http://www.scottquick.com/ignite/managing-information-overload-not-really.html

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