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.

Comments

  1. Absolutely right. But for us webaholics it is not easy to turn off the Internet:-) For those of us who are not flying, there are other means of useful distractions, like taking a long or engage someone in a discussion outside the virtual worlds. But then we would miss your twitters, Bob.

  2. Amen to that. All these services can be massively useful, interesting and entertaining, but they’re definitely also immersive attention thieves. When the deadlines are looming it’s time to turn them off, as you say!

  3. Absolutely right. But for us webaholics it is not easy to turn off the Internet:-) For those of us who are not flying, there are other means of useful distractions, like taking a long or engage someone in a discussion outside the virtual worlds. But then we would miss your twitters, Bob.

  4. Amen to that. All these services can be massively useful, interesting and entertaining, but they’re definitely also immersive attention thieves. When the deadlines are looming it’s time to turn them off, as you say!

  5. I like that…to have one interesting conversation a day. I might steal that.

    Personally, I leave twitter and the rest on (although my facebook usage has gone through the floor in the last month) as I find it helps my productivity and keeps me up to date with the blogs that I’m interested in. Of course there is loads of ‘noise’ but it doesn’t seem to get in the way too much.

    Then again, if I was following x,000 twitterers I’d be distracted too.

    My main goal at the moment is to get my f****** bags back from British Airways. 13 days w/o half my clothes is pretty irritating.

    But if you’d seen my tweets over the last two weeks you’d all know that!

    -pc.

  6. I like that…to have one interesting conversation a day. I might steal that.

    Personally, I leave twitter and the rest on (although my facebook usage has gone through the floor in the last month) as I find it helps my productivity and keeps me up to date with the blogs that I’m interested in. Of course there is loads of ‘noise’ but it doesn’t seem to get in the way too much.

    Then again, if I was following x,000 twitterers I’d be distracted too.

    My main goal at the moment is to get my f****** bags back from British Airways. 13 days w/o half my clothes is pretty irritating.

    But if you’d seen my tweets over the last two weeks you’d all know that!

    -pc.

  7. Great points, Robert. I sometimes wonder if women have it easier than us with distractions like Twitter, et al.

    But I still remember that ol’ ‘Productivity 101′ saying, “If you want to achieve in the quickest time possible, focus on one thing at a time and don’t stop until it’s completed; then move onto the next item in your priority/todo list”

  8. Great points, Robert. I sometimes wonder if women have it easier than us with distractions like Twitter, et al.

    But I still remember that ol’ ‘Productivity 101′ saying, “If you want to achieve in the quickest time possible, focus on one thing at a time and don’t stop until it’s completed; then move onto the next item in your priority/todo list”

  9. Hi Robert,

    as much as I enjoy reading your blog and following what you do and produce, but: welcome to the blindingly obvious!

    To achieve, define attainable goals and cut out the noise.

    In any case, keep up the good work – your reports and videos have added value to my life. Thanks for that.

  10. For me it was getting rid of my mobile phone in 2003, when I went independant with consulting. Having a mobile phone meant being available at all times too everyone, and that became a drag as I would often be interrupted while in “the flow”. How ever simply switching it off meant people leaving messages on the voice mail, and then subsequently having to dedicate time to hunt them down.

    I only am available via email, facebook, Skype or other services where people dont expect an immediate response. So I dont feel to quilty when I dont get back in touch with them ASAP. My rule is too check my accounts in the mournings, and in the evenings so worst case is you will have to wait 12 hours for a response. So far it works out pretty well for me, my stress levels are lower. I am far more productive.

  11. Hi Robert,

    as much as I enjoy reading your blog and following what you do and produce, but: welcome to the blindingly obvious!

    To achieve, define attainable goals and cut out the noise.

    In any case, keep up the good work – your reports and videos have added value to my life. Thanks for that.

  12. For me it was getting rid of my mobile phone in 2003, when I went independant with consulting. Having a mobile phone meant being available at all times too everyone, and that became a drag as I would often be interrupted while in “the flow”. How ever simply switching it off meant people leaving messages on the voice mail, and then subsequently having to dedicate time to hunt them down.

    I only am available via email, facebook, Skype or other services where people dont expect an immediate response. So I dont feel to quilty when I dont get back in touch with them ASAP. My rule is too check my accounts in the mournings, and in the evenings so worst case is you will have to wait 12 hours for a response. So far it works out pretty well for me, my stress levels are lower. I am far more productive.

  13. Robert,

    I too have been wondering about this as lately, I have been quite addicted to twitter… I have also been pondering about your belief that it is better to follow people than people following you.

    Hence, I have taken the liberty to add people on twitter (though not as much as yours) but I must admit that I have picked up a lot of great resources and ideas just from following people such as yourself.

    However, this has also taken quite a toll on me because most of the time I have twitter going off through my mobile. When I’m at work I have it on silent and I still have it on when I go to sleep (on silent of course).

    Sometimes, I don’t want to miss out on something that may be really important. So, i reread the posts in there when I’m on the bus and the train to go to work and the same when I get home from work to home.

    I’m lucky that I’m not on facebook (yet)! Don’t use flickr much nor youtube but I have friendfeed and if I find that I can somehow integrate friendfeed on my mobile – well.. I’ll definitely need to prioritise..

    What I’m trying to say is, even on twitter itself I find that it’s taking up a lot of my time and I don’t know how you can keep up, especially following just over 19,000 people let alone answering over 5,000 emails. I have to commend you for that.

    And you’re right, when push comes to shove (such as being stuck in an airplane for 10 hours) and there’s nothing else but do what you have to do under the circumstance – you just do it.

    cheers,
    Armand
    from Down Under

  14. Robert,

    I too have been wondering about this as lately, I have been quite addicted to twitter… I have also been pondering about your belief that it is better to follow people than people following you.

    Hence, I have taken the liberty to add people on twitter (though not as much as yours) but I must admit that I have picked up a lot of great resources and ideas just from following people such as yourself.

    However, this has also taken quite a toll on me because most of the time I have twitter going off through my mobile. When I’m at work I have it on silent and I still have it on when I go to sleep (on silent of course).

    Sometimes, I don’t want to miss out on something that may be really important. So, i reread the posts in there when I’m on the bus and the train to go to work and the same when I get home from work to home.

    I’m lucky that I’m not on facebook (yet)! Don’t use flickr much nor youtube but I have friendfeed and if I find that I can somehow integrate friendfeed on my mobile – well.. I’ll definitely need to prioritise..

    What I’m trying to say is, even on twitter itself I find that it’s taking up a lot of my time and I don’t know how you can keep up, especially following just over 19,000 people let alone answering over 5,000 emails. I have to commend you for that.

    And you’re right, when push comes to shove (such as being stuck in an airplane for 10 hours) and there’s nothing else but do what you have to do under the circumstance – you just do it.

    cheers,
    Armand
    from Down Under

  15. heh, yes, you are right. Last time on a plane I felt so productive I reckoned I might buy a plane myself :)

  16. heh, yes, you are right. Last time on a plane I felt so productive I reckoned I might buy a plane myself :)

  17. Robert,

    The only problem with making a blanket statement like this is that it ignores the natural work style of the person involved. Is what you’re saying generally good advice? Yes. Is it something that applies to everyone? No. I’m not even convinced that it applies to a majority.

    One of the interesting things about people diagnosed with Adult ADD/ADHD is that they are frequently not just good multi-taskers, they are frequently horrible single-taskers. They require multiple sensory inputs simultaneously to keep their brains able to focus in a given area. A good friend of mine is this way, and he simply cannot focus on anything difficult without having music in the background.

    Related to this is how accustomed the person is to the presence of Twitter/IMs/Email and so forth. There are all sorts of ways to deal with this in times of “high focus,” and most programmer types figure this out pretty quickly, or they stop being programmer types. Much of this is true with writing as well.

    I might just as well say, “Not productive enough as a telecommuter? Go back to the office!” After all, there are all sorts of non-work distractions at home… right? High productivity demands discipline of some sort, and for some, that will mean “turn off the Internet.” For others, it will mean “turn on some 80′s punk rock, really loud.”

    To each his own. – Tim

  18. Robert,

    The only problem with making a blanket statement like this is that it ignores the natural work style of the person involved. Is what you’re saying generally good advice? Yes. Is it something that applies to everyone? No. I’m not even convinced that it applies to a majority.

    One of the interesting things about people diagnosed with Adult ADD/ADHD is that they are frequently not just good multi-taskers, they are frequently horrible single-taskers. They require multiple sensory inputs simultaneously to keep their brains able to focus in a given area. A good friend of mine is this way, and he simply cannot focus on anything difficult without having music in the background.

    Related to this is how accustomed the person is to the presence of Twitter/IMs/Email and so forth. There are all sorts of ways to deal with this in times of “high focus,” and most programmer types figure this out pretty quickly, or they stop being programmer types. Much of this is true with writing as well.

    I might just as well say, “Not productive enough as a telecommuter? Go back to the office!” After all, there are all sorts of non-work distractions at home… right? High productivity demands discipline of some sort, and for some, that will mean “turn off the Internet.” For others, it will mean “turn on some 80′s punk rock, really loud.”

    To each his own. – Tim

  19. Its a no brainer idea, but its a good one. When I gotta write a story in a short time, I have to disconnect from the internet. Makes me glad I got a laptop so I can work anywhere I want. That being said, I should be working right now. The only issue with this idea is that if you need the internet open for say, research, like I do sometimes, turning off the internet is not an option.

  20. Its a no brainer idea, but its a good one. When I gotta write a story in a short time, I have to disconnect from the internet. Makes me glad I got a laptop so I can work anywhere I want. That being said, I should be working right now. The only issue with this idea is that if you need the internet open for say, research, like I do sometimes, turning off the internet is not an option.

  21. Hello Robert,

    you have some good points there. But i think that the usefulness of a service and the productiveness of a person depends on what he is trying to achieve with his social network at the moment. I’m sure you have a gigantic social network of contacts and try to maintain it. I have a small internet audience yet and try to extend it. Twitter and dropping comments and visiting blogs is good for extending your social net. Answering Email and being offline is good when you dont want to extend it because you already have the real 50 social contacts a human needs to be a happy person.

    So the universal IT answer applies: “It depends”.

    In NLP terms: We might share the same planet, but we should accept that our world is different. :-)

    I like what you do btw :-)

    But it simply is impossible to maintain my social contacts on twitter and follow you there at the same time. OVERLOAD :-)

    Best Wishes,
    Joerg :-)

  22. Hello Robert,

    you have some good points there. But i think that the usefulness of a service and the productiveness of a person depends on what he is trying to achieve with his social network at the moment. I’m sure you have a gigantic social network of contacts and try to maintain it. I have a small internet audience yet and try to extend it. Twitter and dropping comments and visiting blogs is good for extending your social net. Answering Email and being offline is good when you dont want to extend it because you already have the real 50 social contacts a human needs to be a happy person.

    So the universal IT answer applies: “It depends”.

    In NLP terms: We might share the same planet, but we should accept that our world is different. :-)

    I like what you do btw :-)

    But it simply is impossible to maintain my social contacts on twitter and follow you there at the same time. OVERLOAD :-)

    Best Wishes,
    Joerg :-)

  23. Interesting point about turning off distractions. I know I have a hard time doing it at times. It isn’t unheard of for me to have the ballgame on, music playing on my Macbook, e-mail, twitter, iChat, Google Reader, and other web sites open at the same time. No wonder at times it feels like I haven’t “accomplished” anything, especially when I look at my inbox.

    It is amazing how productive I am when I do intentionally close all of my opened applications and concentrate on a single task.

  24. Interesting point about turning off distractions. I know I have a hard time doing it at times. It isn’t unheard of for me to have the ballgame on, music playing on my Macbook, e-mail, twitter, iChat, Google Reader, and other web sites open at the same time. No wonder at times it feels like I haven’t “accomplished” anything, especially when I look at my inbox.

    It is amazing how productive I am when I do intentionally close all of my opened applications and concentrate on a single task.

  25. This is why my spare laptop battery is so critical. I totally agree that en route time during air travel is some of the most productive. Only thing missing is a decent workspace, as the standard seat and tray table in coach hardly qualifies.

  26. This is why my spare laptop battery is so critical. I totally agree that en route time during air travel is some of the most productive. Only thing missing is a decent workspace, as the standard seat and tray table in coach hardly qualifies.

  27. Don’t forget to turn off all video recording devices too Scoble! lol

    I figured flying would actually leave you unproductive, but it’s nice to find that you CAN actually get things done while offline and you might be more inclined to just do it just because you’re offline.

  28. Don’t forget to turn off all video recording devices too Scoble! lol

    I figured flying would actually leave you unproductive, but it’s nice to find that you CAN actually get things done while offline and you might be more inclined to just do it just because you’re offline.

  29. Twitter is indeed a distraction…one that I use when I’m bored. But, I’ve tamed the beast and am not letting it completely take me off my productivity game. It’s nice to take a couple of minute break and drop into the twitter stream of consciousness. But, then, back out again.

    Methinks your next book will have to do with productivity. You seem very focused on that lately.

  30. Twitter is indeed a distraction…one that I use when I’m bored. But, I’ve tamed the beast and am not letting it completely take me off my productivity game. It’s nice to take a couple of minute break and drop into the twitter stream of consciousness. But, then, back out again.

    Methinks your next book will have to do with productivity. You seem very focused on that lately.

  31. Like most things, it seems like “nothing in excess” applies here as well as anywhere. There was some discussion recently somewhere (Dvorak?) that the proliferation of info streams is actually evolutionary in nature; that the human brain is wired to take in as much info as possible, and the internet provides a virtually inexhaustible supply of food to feed the beast.

    For me, it seems like distractions are just distractions. Whether it’s the internet, alcohol, gambling, politics, tech, etc., if it is pulling you away from your goals and values, it’s probably worth reexamining your present state. Dude, your life is experiencing stack overflow. Don’t wait to study the crash logs to figure out what happened.

    If something looks like it’s getting in my way, I take a step back and evaluate where I think I’m going, and whether this is just a distraction, or a potential asset in attaining my goal. Most of the time, a distraction is where I retreat when I’m overwhelmed or confused or frustrated or afraid. Or all of those. And certainly, we live in a time where a clear look around outside your bubble makes for plausible rationale for the need to be distracted.

    My grandpa used to say, “What’s the worst that can happen? It can’t eat you.”

    Okay, maybe he wasn’t talking about the internet.

  32. Like most things, it seems like “nothing in excess” applies here as well as anywhere. There was some discussion recently somewhere (Dvorak?) that the proliferation of info streams is actually evolutionary in nature; that the human brain is wired to take in as much info as possible, and the internet provides a virtually inexhaustible supply of food to feed the beast.

    For me, it seems like distractions are just distractions. Whether it’s the internet, alcohol, gambling, politics, tech, etc., if it is pulling you away from your goals and values, it’s probably worth reexamining your present state. Dude, your life is experiencing stack overflow. Don’t wait to study the crash logs to figure out what happened.

    If something looks like it’s getting in my way, I take a step back and evaluate where I think I’m going, and whether this is just a distraction, or a potential asset in attaining my goal. Most of the time, a distraction is where I retreat when I’m overwhelmed or confused or frustrated or afraid. Or all of those. And certainly, we live in a time where a clear look around outside your bubble makes for plausible rationale for the need to be distracted.

    My grandpa used to say, “What’s the worst that can happen? It can’t eat you.”

    Okay, maybe he wasn’t talking about the internet.

  33. If your at terminal one, Heathrow, you’ll have masses of downtime while they decide whether it’s time for you to leave the premises or not. (You don’t get a choice).

    Welcome to the UK.
    You’re never more than ten seconds away from a CCTV camera watching your every move.

    Be careful Schobie.

    Pete.

  34. If your at terminal one, Heathrow, you’ll have masses of downtime while they decide whether it’s time for you to leave the premises or not. (You don’t get a choice).

    Welcome to the UK.
    You’re never more than ten seconds away from a CCTV camera watching your every move.

    Be careful Schobie.

    Pete.

  35. A good chunk of the internet is a great way to waste time – look at facebook and think of the countless hours people spend doing quiz after pointless quiz.
    Once you’re hooked…

  36. A good chunk of the internet is a great way to waste time – look at facebook and think of the countless hours people spend doing quiz after pointless quiz.
    Once you’re hooked…

  37. In general I agree with you, but the comment about ADD and multi-tasking was really interesting; I believe I lean in that direction which makes the internet a danger zone for me.

  38. In general I agree with you, but the comment about ADD and multi-tasking was really interesting; I believe I lean in that direction which makes the internet a danger zone for me.

  39. “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.”

    Um, I don’t want to insult anybody, but wasn’t this blindingly obvious from the beginning?

    It’s true that if you want to “scoop” everybody else you have to have many tendrils out there collecting information. But the dirty little “secret” is that is is a rigged game. If you are not Walt Mossberg or David Pogue you won’t be the first person to hear about new gadgets, or if by some chance you do, you and your twitter pal are going to be subject to lawsuits.

    So that leaves these mostly noise, little signal vehicles for idle chit chat and even more idle speculation. Most of what I’ve seen from Twitter (and all the other products you name) is either erroneous, irrelevant, or as I called it, idle chit chat, which may be entertaining, but isn’t productive.

  40. “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.”

    Um, I don’t want to insult anybody, but wasn’t this blindingly obvious from the beginning?

    It’s true that if you want to “scoop” everybody else you have to have many tendrils out there collecting information. But the dirty little “secret” is that is is a rigged game. If you are not Walt Mossberg or David Pogue you won’t be the first person to hear about new gadgets, or if by some chance you do, you and your twitter pal are going to be subject to lawsuits.

    So that leaves these mostly noise, little signal vehicles for idle chit chat and even more idle speculation. Most of what I’ve seen from Twitter (and all the other products you name) is either erroneous, irrelevant, or as I called it, idle chit chat, which may be entertaining, but isn’t productive.

  41. My first response to your headline was Duh!! It’s so obvious, most people, myself included are constantly distracted by the web. For me personally is the constant glances at my RSS feed. Sometimes I just need to turn it off for a while. My RSS feed actually provides much valuable information, but I see tones of other web apps that are mostly a giant time sink, with no redeeming value.

  42. My first response to your headline was Duh!! It’s so obvious, most people, myself included are constantly distracted by the web. For me personally is the constant glances at my RSS feed. Sometimes I just need to turn it off for a while. My RSS feed actually provides much valuable information, but I see tones of other web apps that are mostly a giant time sink, with no redeeming value.

  43. Robert makes an obvious but important point, and one that is similar to a suggestion from Tim Ferriss (author of The 4-Hour Work Week): turn off Outlook, and get your most important things done.

    Related to the potential of Twitter to be a distraction, and the huge number of people Robert follows, I’d like to introduce something I’m calling the “Twitter Dilemma”: what do you think is the maximum number of people you can reasonably follow on Twitter?

    On one hand, a lot of people I know say 100-200, and anything beyond that and they aren’t able to really follow what’s happening. Interestingly, Dunbar’s Number suggests that the max is around 150 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunbar's_number).

    On the other hand, I look at people like Robert, @ChrisBrogan and @JeffPulver, the mere fact they follow so many people… attracts even more people who in turn follow them, further building their popularity.

    But does this really need to be an either or proposition?

    What I really want from Twitter is to be able to “follow” several hundred people (that I check now and then as I have time) – and have a way to segment the people I’m following with a subset of “favorite people I’m following” (close friends, family and people who always have something compelling to say), a subset that I don’t want to miss anything they Tweet.

    If you’re using Twitter in an interesting way, I’d like to follow you, do ping me there at http://www.twitter.com/davideckoff

  44. Robert makes an obvious but important point, and one that is similar to a suggestion from Tim Ferriss (author of The 4-Hour Work Week): turn off Outlook, and get your most important things done.

    Related to the potential of Twitter to be a distraction, and the huge number of people Robert follows, I’d like to introduce something I’m calling the “Twitter Dilemma”: what do you think is the maximum number of people you can reasonably follow on Twitter?

    On one hand, a lot of people I know say 100-200, and anything beyond that and they aren’t able to really follow what’s happening. Interestingly, Dunbar’s Number suggests that the max is around 150 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunbar's_number).

    On the other hand, I look at people like Robert, @ChrisBrogan and @JeffPulver, the mere fact they follow so many people… attracts even more people who in turn follow them, further building their popularity.

    But does this really need to be an either or proposition?

    What I really want from Twitter is to be able to “follow” several hundred people (that I check now and then as I have time) – and have a way to segment the people I’m following with a subset of “favorite people I’m following” (close friends, family and people who always have something compelling to say), a subset that I don’t want to miss anything they Tweet.

    If you’re using Twitter in an interesting way, I’d like to follow you, do ping me there at http://www.twitter.com/davideckoff

  45. What you ware suggesting is nothing new: block distractions and things will get done. But I think Tim, above, already said it: your suggestion doesn’t apply to everyone, as there are different work styles.

    I also think you are in the minority, where everything you do is followed by your followers and you follow everything your followers do. Of course minority to me may appear to be a majority for you (and viceversa), since having a group of 200+ technorati followers would seem like a lot of people (and it is a ridiculously large amount of people). I mean, you can hardly count 5,250 emails a normal thing; furthermore, how many of those 5000+ emails are really important? Sure, they are important in the “fan mail” sense, but are they really important?

    Your professional world is an interesting niche, but it seems to be the same group always twittering about this or that. Not much variety, as what you are covering is being covered by 10 other people (group think comes to play here, I think). It’s like a geek celebrity reality soap opera, similar to the big brother show (from what I can gather from the title, as I’ve never seen the actual TV show).

    There surely is some value being generated. How else would you explain companies hiring you to do what you do. It is promotional? Is it the new economy? I don’t know yet, as I still haven’t quite figure out what it is; however, I don’t really understand the celebrity centric media in the USA either, and that is a large industry (Britney alone generates hundreds of millions of dollars just being/acting crazy). Somehow, I think they are related.

    Anyway, I’ll keep on watching/reading. It does make for good intrigue, sometimes. And, of course, there are sometimes some interesting companies mentioned in all the noise.

  46. What you ware suggesting is nothing new: block distractions and things will get done. But I think Tim, above, already said it: your suggestion doesn’t apply to everyone, as there are different work styles.

    I also think you are in the minority, where everything you do is followed by your followers and you follow everything your followers do. Of course minority to me may appear to be a majority for you (and viceversa), since having a group of 200+ technorati followers would seem like a lot of people (and it is a ridiculously large amount of people). I mean, you can hardly count 5,250 emails a normal thing; furthermore, how many of those 5000+ emails are really important? Sure, they are important in the “fan mail” sense, but are they really important?

    Your professional world is an interesting niche, but it seems to be the same group always twittering about this or that. Not much variety, as what you are covering is being covered by 10 other people (group think comes to play here, I think). It’s like a geek celebrity reality soap opera, similar to the big brother show (from what I can gather from the title, as I’ve never seen the actual TV show).

    There surely is some value being generated. How else would you explain companies hiring you to do what you do. It is promotional? Is it the new economy? I don’t know yet, as I still haven’t quite figure out what it is; however, I don’t really understand the celebrity centric media in the USA either, and that is a large industry (Britney alone generates hundreds of millions of dollars just being/acting crazy). Somehow, I think they are related.

    Anyway, I’ll keep on watching/reading. It does make for good intrigue, sometimes. And, of course, there are sometimes some interesting companies mentioned in all the noise.

  47. I couldn’t agree more. I waste a lot of my time on it. When I really have to get something done I turn my computer off.

  48. I’m so glad I don’t have to use computers and the Internet at work. I’d never get anything done!! So, that leaves my (limited) leisure time to waste. Trouble is, when I do turn off twitter etc I sit there thinking about all the stuff I’m missing out on and end up turning it all back on again. At least I have to have my mobile switched off when I’m driving my lorry at work otherwise I’d never, ever be productive!

  49. I’m so glad I don’t have to use computers and the Internet at work. I’d never get anything done!! So, that leaves my (limited) leisure time to waste. Trouble is, when I do turn off twitter etc I sit there thinking about all the stuff I’m missing out on and end up turning it all back on again. At least I have to have my mobile switched off when I’m driving my lorry at work otherwise I’d never, ever be productive!

  50. It’s funny that we decide doing things we don’t like is being productive. It seems like most of the things that are “time drains”- reading blogs, staying in touch via twitter and friend feed…- add lots of value to your life. Seems productive to me.

  51. It’s funny that we decide doing things we don’t like is being productive. It seems like most of the things that are “time drains”- reading blogs, staying in touch via twitter and friend feed…- add lots of value to your life. Seems productive to me.

  52. Problem is, you can’t “turn off the Internet”; you can only not access it for a while. There’s a rather huge difference, especially as the Internet continues without you; if you’re away for a while, it’s going to grow on you.

    And catching up? Good luck, nowadays. There’s too much you’ll have missed.

  53. Problem is, you can’t “turn off the Internet”; you can only not access it for a while. There’s a rather huge difference, especially as the Internet continues without you; if you’re away for a while, it’s going to grow on you.

    And catching up? Good luck, nowadays. There’s too much you’ll have missed.

  54. What if Congress started ignoring the click-to-complain sheep-stream and instead listened to the stuff that mattered and the people who take real time to call or write?

    Same difference. More productivity.

  55. What if Congress started ignoring the click-to-complain sheep-stream and instead listened to the stuff that mattered and the people who take real time to call or write?

    Same difference. More productivity.

  56. During grad school at Northwestern, me and some fellow class mates had the pleasure of spending half a day with Warren Buffett.
    Buffett said if you have 20 great ideas in your life you’re doing very well……this was a couple of years ago and at that time he said he hadn’t even reached 20 yet.
    He returned to Omaha from NY because they tried to come up with 20 great ideas before lunch.
    Unplugging from the clutter and noise certainly hasn’t hurt him any. It’s a good lesson.

  57. During grad school at Northwestern, me and some fellow class mates had the pleasure of spending half a day with Warren Buffett.
    Buffett said if you have 20 great ideas in your life you’re doing very well……this was a couple of years ago and at that time he said he hadn’t even reached 20 yet.
    He returned to Omaha from NY because they tried to come up with 20 great ideas before lunch.
    Unplugging from the clutter and noise certainly hasn’t hurt him any. It’s a good lesson.

  58. Hurray for you – as you know from our prior talks, Return on Attention (ROA) is my mantr. Your post, with specific reference to Linda’s CPA and the desire for “one good conversation a day” is right on.

    The trick as a video journalist is to find a way to have those good conversations, to make them easily accessable to your audience, and to discipline yourself against the CPA barrage of Twitter, FriendFeed, Facebook,gigantic inbaskets in both email and google reader and the overwhelming desire to be “friended” by everyone.

    I KNOW that you are smart enough to design FASTCOMPANYTV to be more than just another addition to the CPA cacaphony that plagues the Web.

    Looking forward to your posts from Israel.

  59. Hurray for you – as you know from our prior talks, Return on Attention (ROA) is my mantr. Your post, with specific reference to Linda’s CPA and the desire for “one good conversation a day” is right on.

    The trick as a video journalist is to find a way to have those good conversations, to make them easily accessable to your audience, and to discipline yourself against the CPA barrage of Twitter, FriendFeed, Facebook,gigantic inbaskets in both email and google reader and the overwhelming desire to be “friended” by everyone.

    I KNOW that you are smart enough to design FASTCOMPANYTV to be more than just another addition to the CPA cacaphony that plagues the Web.

    Looking forward to your posts from Israel.

  60. Technology can be a double edged sword, sometimes enslaving as much as it frees If one is very disciplined, one can use technology rather than have it use us. But of course, as with every good interaction, (human as well as tech) one must be able to say no as well as yes. As they say, the no gives meaning to the yes.

  61. Technology can be a double edged sword, sometimes enslaving as much as it frees If one is very disciplined, one can use technology rather than have it use us. But of course, as with every good interaction, (human as well as tech) one must be able to say no as well as yes. As they say, the no gives meaning to the yes.

  62. Robert, great article. I was just asking a friend how in the heck you keep up with all of this stuff and still keep your light sockets from blowing their bulbs.

    Goals are extremely important in life as they keep us alive! I found I am most productive either early in the morning when everything is quiet (and I hate waking up early) or late at night when everything is quiet.

    Well’ here’s another comment to keep up with… and here’s to having at least 1 great conversation everyday!

  63. Robert, great article. I was just asking a friend how in the heck you keep up with all of this stuff and still keep your light sockets from blowing their bulbs.

    Goals are extremely important in life as they keep us alive! I found I am most productive either early in the morning when everything is quiet (and I hate waking up early) or late at night when everything is quiet.

    Well’ here’s another comment to keep up with… and here’s to having at least 1 great conversation everyday!

  64. [...] Robert Scoble posted a nice short blog on the subject, and it was a breath of fresh air coming from some I consider a tad bit insane to stay as connected as he does. What did Robert have to say on the subject? 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. [...]

  65. I guess you’re not going to book a flight to Frankfurt on Lufthansa anytime soon if you want to stick with your plan. Last time I looked it was just $25/flight for internet access way up high in the sky.

  66. I guess you’re not going to book a flight to Frankfurt on Lufthansa anytime soon if you want to stick with your plan. Last time I looked it was just $25/flight for internet access way up high in the sky.

  67. “The Huffington Post”???? That alone should save you a collossal amount of time, and also enable you to regenerate some brain cells.

  68. “The Huffington Post”???? That alone should save you a collossal amount of time, and also enable you to regenerate some brain cells.

  69. [...] Not productive enough? Turn off the InternetBlogger Robert Scoble recommends offline is the way to be productive.Tags: productivity distraction internet digg_url = ‘http://www.lifehack.org/articles/resource/lifehack-digest-for-april-10.html’; ( function() { var ds=typeof digg_skin==’string’?digg_skin:”; var h=80; var w=52; if(ds==’compact’) { h=18; w=120; } var u=typeof digg_url==’string’?digg_url:(typeof DIGG_URL==’string’?DIGG_URL:window.location.href); document.write(“”); } )() Author: Lifehack Editors Posted: Friday, April 11th, 2008 at 3:00 am Tags: links Bookmark or Share this with a friend! [...]

  70. “You blokes look up tight. You should try logging off; it relieves tension” — Ray Tracer (ReBoot)

  71. “You blokes look up tight. You should try logging off; it relieves tension” — Ray Tracer (ReBoot)

  72. Robert, how long exactly has taken you to reach that conclusion? :)

    Many of us have shunned the likes of Facebook, Twitter or Friendfeed for that very reason. They are too demanding on our time.

    I see exactly why they would be valueable for someone like you, and I find it quite normal that you use them. For me, they’re simple not worth it.

    You know, this is a game we can’t win. Asynchronous services such as email favour procrastrination and an ever mounting inbox. Synchronous services such as twitter completely wreck our workflow. The combination of both is death.

    For me, the lesser evil is staying with email, using plain old IM when I need it, and cutting down on the number of contacts to those I care about. I couldn’t care less about what I’m missing that way. Among other things, YOU won’t miss that, and will keep us updated ;)

  73. Robert, how long exactly has taken you to reach that conclusion? :)

    Many of us have shunned the likes of Facebook, Twitter or Friendfeed for that very reason. They are too demanding on our time.

    I see exactly why they would be valueable for someone like you, and I find it quite normal that you use them. For me, they’re simple not worth it.

    You know, this is a game we can’t win. Asynchronous services such as email favour procrastrination and an ever mounting inbox. Synchronous services such as twitter completely wreck our workflow. The combination of both is death.

    For me, the lesser evil is staying with email, using plain old IM when I need it, and cutting down on the number of contacts to those I care about. I couldn’t care less about what I’m missing that way. Among other things, YOU won’t miss that, and will keep us updated ;)

  74. I know what you’re re talking about, I could get a lot ,ore done. I really appreciate you article because it is written in such a way that it is easy reading. So many blog posters get too carried away with creative writing styles. Apparently you have had some practice at it.
    Thanks, Jordy

  75. I know what you’re re talking about, I could get a lot ,ore done. I really appreciate you article because it is written in such a way that it is easy reading. So many blog posters get too carried away with creative writing styles. Apparently you have had some practice at it.
    Thanks, Jordy

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

    It certainly is not to have more followers on Twitter. I care not a hoot about that.

    Here’s my Life List. I much prefer to work on getting these things done.

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

    It certainly is not to have more followers on Twitter. I care not a hoot about that.

    Here’s my Life List. I much prefer to work on getting these things done.

  78. I would love to know more about the cost to productivity of Facebook, Twitter, et. al. Which are the biggest drains? And are there any real benefits in the workplace?

  79. I would love to know more about the cost to productivity of Facebook, Twitter, et. al. Which are the biggest drains? And are there any real benefits in the workplace?

  80. I do something not quite the same. I develop software – for linux. But my documentation/mail/etc.. machine is a mac. When in my office, the Mac and the Linux box share a monitor. When I’m coding/debugging/etc.. I have the screen on my “work” box. I can’t see the mac screen. There are days where I completely forget to look at the mail etc.. because I’ve hit the coding ‘zone’ and since there’s no blinky to catch my attention.. I stay there! (till the wife calls to see if I’m still alive since it’s been 12 hours since last she heard from me.)

  81. I do something not quite the same. I develop software – for linux. But my documentation/mail/etc.. machine is a mac. When in my office, the Mac and the Linux box share a monitor. When I’m coding/debugging/etc.. I have the screen on my “work” box. I can’t see the mac screen. There are days where I completely forget to look at the mail etc.. because I’ve hit the coding ‘zone’ and since there’s no blinky to catch my attention.. I stay there! (till the wife calls to see if I’m still alive since it’s been 12 hours since last she heard from me.)

  82. Social media pied-pipers disconnecting from the net…

    By now everyone knows clever cartoonist Hugh McLeod has become a hermit, moving to the remote, little town of Alpine, Texas and, even worse, deleting his Twitter account. In one of his final Tweets, Hugh said, Sorry, Gang, I just…

  83. “…to have an interesting conversation every day.”

    Have you ever thought about just letting life happen? Interesting conversations that arise because of place and circumstance and people, rather than dictated by a check list?

    Maybe what it takes to be a weblogger is to live a life in a permanent state of partial attention. I know I can’t live the “connected” state anymore, more power to those that can, I guess.

    But “interesting conversation every day”…how can you be meaningfully impacted by a conversation when you don’t give yourself time to absorb all the nuances?

    Oh well, whatever works for you.

  84. “…to have an interesting conversation every day.”

    Have you ever thought about just letting life happen? Interesting conversations that arise because of place and circumstance and people, rather than dictated by a check list?

    Maybe what it takes to be a weblogger is to live a life in a permanent state of partial attention. I know I can’t live the “connected” state anymore, more power to those that can, I guess.

    But “interesting conversation every day”…how can you be meaningfully impacted by a conversation when you don’t give yourself time to absorb all the nuances?

    Oh well, whatever works for you.

  85. Instant Messenger is a blessing and a curse in the workplace, but at least it has a true function. Twitter is fun, but way too distracting, especially if you want to complete a creative or technical project. That little twit in the in the corner of your screen is seductive and charming, which is why I need to turn it off to work.

  86. Instant Messenger is a blessing and a curse in the workplace, but at least it has a true function. Twitter is fun, but way too distracting, especially if you want to complete a creative or technical project. That little twit in the in the corner of your screen is seductive and charming, which is why I need to turn it off to work.

  87. While seemingly obvious the underlying point Robert makes is fascinating. While on a plane, we are 100% removed from all normal interruptions. Our time is truly 100% ours …. however the counterpoint is that time is potentially so un-natural that the work in that time is skewed and less valuable. During that time, when we send all those emails, the lack of instant response is gratifying, yet unreal, and I suspect creates an artificial sense of gratification.

    I know the feeling too well.

  88. While seemingly obvious the underlying point Robert makes is fascinating. While on a plane, we are 100% removed from all normal interruptions. Our time is truly 100% ours …. however the counterpoint is that time is potentially so un-natural that the work in that time is skewed and less valuable. During that time, when we send all those emails, the lack of instant response is gratifying, yet unreal, and I suspect creates an artificial sense of gratification.

    I know the feeling too well.

  89. Twitter’s not enough of a distraction for me to merit doing anything much about it – since I use Jaiku, Facebook, Myspace, Pownce, Tumblr etc etc I tend to update them all from http://www.hellotxt.com/ up to a maximum of about 5 times a day & only bother reading other people’s tweets, jaikus etc when I get home at the end of the day. You seem to be endlessly twittering most days – you’re definitely the most constant twitterer in my follow list – but updating so often kind of defeats the purpose in a way. The idea of microblogging is to save time by limiting the size of posts, but not to be never done with the damned thing :-)

  90. Twitter’s not enough of a distraction for me to merit doing anything much about it – since I use Jaiku, Facebook, Myspace, Pownce, Tumblr etc etc I tend to update them all from http://www.hellotxt.com/ up to a maximum of about 5 times a day & only bother reading other people’s tweets, jaikus etc when I get home at the end of the day. You seem to be endlessly twittering most days – you’re definitely the most constant twitterer in my follow list – but updating so often kind of defeats the purpose in a way. The idea of microblogging is to save time by limiting the size of posts, but not to be never done with the damned thing :-)

  91. I agree. I notice an increase of productivity when I am not distracted by the phone, the internet or the office mates :)
    And I feel strange when, after 2/3 straight hours of work I think: “I didn’t miss email and rss feeds!” :)

  92. I agree. I notice an increase of productivity when I am not distracted by the phone, the internet or the office mates :)
    And I feel strange when, after 2/3 straight hours of work I think: “I didn’t miss email and rss feeds!” :)

  93. well, this is SO TRUE!
    I’ve worked at a client side for 2 days without any internet connection. Only internet access was remoting into a remote machine and that just gives me webmail. :-/

    Had a few hours off waiting for some software to run an installation and script, in these few hours I sorted out my mailbox and did all the due administration work from the last few months, one actually feel as if a great weight has been lifted from one’s shoulders.

  94. well, this is SO TRUE!
    I’ve worked at a client side for 2 days without any internet connection. Only internet access was remoting into a remote machine and that just gives me webmail. :-/

    Had a few hours off waiting for some software to run an installation and script, in these few hours I sorted out my mailbox and did all the due administration work from the last few months, one actually feel as if a great weight has been lifted from one’s shoulders.

  95. 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

  96. 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

  97. 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.
    :)

  98. 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.
    :)

  99. 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.

  100. 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.

  101. [...] Scoble: “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.” [...]

  102. ……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.

  103. ……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.

  104. 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.

  105. 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.