My Samsung Galaxy S2 kind of died. I can make it work – it will just be finding the right rom to flash it with, and the onerous process that takes.
It didn’t start working the other night, the minute I turned it off, because I absolutely had to read something of value. So I read a book.
Next morning, it won’t boot. Tried to fix it, still didn’t work.
And this begun my simplification process of my life.
First step - Analyze
I use RescueTime on all my devices to get an idea what my productivity is like. Lately it has been terrible. I have spent at least 10 hours weekly on my phone, just on the browser! And this is looking at articles of which I can’t remember, probably didn’t get anything from, and were boring to begin with.
A week. The Youtube time is fairly productive. I’m either learning about the US Supreme Court and Scalia, or finding more reasons to like Jimmy Carr. Client sites omitted.
The worst part is I checked when I was doing this – typically in the morning, which I have found can be the most productive time for me.
I wake up every morning, and before I go to the toilet, I check my email and Facebook updates. How sad is that? I haven’t done this for a couple of days and already feel liberated.
Why? Because I’m paying more attention to my surroundings, and I don’t take my daily direction and thoughts from what other people or services are sending me.
Second step – Find Tools
I had to have a working phone, purely for emergency purposes in a country which I am still finding my way, so I got out my BlackBerry curve, pictured here:
It’s not as pretty as an iPhone, but it does have a certain sense of style.
And within 30 minutes I had it working on another network. Remember this is a phone from 2008.
It doesn’t do email very well. I can’t be bothered paying for a BIS (Blackberry internet service) subscription. And why do I need to access my email on the go anyway? I can be far more productive in the home office. I type and read quicker for a start when I am on a bigger screen. If people need me, they call me.
It also has stellar battery life. Remember having a Nokia 3310? You rarely had to charge it? Well I get something similar – I charge my blackberry once every three days. It’s lovely.
To stop this email habit in the morning, where I have full access to my computer, which uses Sparrow (can’t recommend it enough), I use Inbox Pause which I can press a button and receive no more email until I press unpause. They are still received, but hidden.
It’s beautiful. I checked my email at 11:00am today very casually. I usually checked it at 7:00am, 7:10am, 7:30am, whenever something would arrive… Now I do it at 11, and maybe at 3. But I don’t really care. If people need me, they call or sms. And how many people actually need me on any given day?
But I realised this process of simplification started long before. I removed myself from 45 different newsletter subscriptions, some of whose mail I hadn’t read in over three years. My inbox had 6,631ish unread mail.
I removed most of my rss links. When I bookmark something I use Evernote Clipper, rather than bookmarking the page, because I never look at bookmarks, as you can see here:
Find any incriminating ones?
I delete or archive any mail, I never leave anything in my inbox unless it’s neccesary for me to act upon it.
Spammers are still trying to say they need me to reply to them so they can send me private pictures.
And it’s a weird sense of freedom. No longer I am shackled to my phone. I have become more social, and I’m enjoying time more.
(I had a friend, who shall remain nameless, that checked her phone every 30 seconds, by turning it on, refreshing email and facebook, and then turning it off. This was when we met. I haven’t checked my phone in at least 3 hours.)
Step Three – Change your behaviour
Oh, and just so you know, you don’t need the next biggest thing. It’s a lie.
I don’t actually want to be on my phone unless I have to. And that’s brilliant. It’s now a tool, not entertainment.
What struck me is this – I only have so many years left in my life, and there is much I want to accomplish. The only way this is going to happen is if I stop spending times on the things that aren’t productive, and start doing things that are.
Like reading and writing. Read this blog post if you want to be a book person like long ago before you had discovered the internet.
I’ve also stopped reading the news for any period of time.
I check one news site, daily, for 10 seconds. In case, you know, Adelaide has exploded.
Otherwise I couldn’t care less.
I’ve also stopped reading Wikipedia so intently. I still like to know how World War I started (incidentally far more complicated than World War II). I still like knowledge, but I prefer to read the things that either directly interest me or are related to my objectives. Trivia is always fun, but if you don’t remember it, what’s the point?
Time has become the most valuable thing for me. Right now, you are wondering why you are spending your time reading this article. Well if I was to leave you with anything, (but I encourage you to read on) is for you to manage your time better.
There are a stupendous amount of things that waste time in our lives. Get rid of them.
If I had my way I wouldn’t have an email account. But I haven’t got a personal assistant to filter and print out the right ones.
I encourage you to read longer articles and watch longer videos. Stop reading lists! (This is a problem for me as well). Most popular articles on news websites, by views, are lists. I know it’s human nature to like them, but for the love of God, do they leave you with anything interesting or relevant?
Also, do the most with your mornings. Or whenever you feel productive. Close any open tabs in your browser you don’t need. I know I’ve said this before.
I also encourage you to be more productive with your costs. I’ve been forced to save money, and I’m doing well. I have cut any subscriptions I don’t need, and I suggest you to do the same. I have moved this blog to more appropriate hosting, and I’m eating much better.
I also eat less now. But I eat healthier, at better times, with better value food. I also try to save money on beverages. I’m also in a country with extremely low grocery prices, but you don’t need to go that far.
Fourth Step – Do stuff
So now you have all the time in the world to do things, you have eliminated clutter, time-wasters and annoying things. What the hell do you do with the time?
I’m going to be sincerely succinct – whatever your passion, goal, desire in life is to do at this very moment, or for the next year, two years, decade etc – do something that would make you closer to that in some way.
I want to be a famous writer, and discover the depths of human emotions and experiences that life has to offer, and I feel that the written word can express these almost as good as being in the moment, and sometimes better.
Therefore I write nearly every single day 1000-4000 words depending on how I’m feeling.
So do something that will make you more awesome.
But then again, you try this for a couple of days, you use some of the software I recommend, and then you have a binge and lose productivity.
The most important thing I can say, after all of this, is STICK WITH YOUR PLAN.
I have had several episodes of email checking which haven’t been productive at all. I have tried to change them as much as possible. And when I do, I write 4000 words in an evening without a problem.
It takes a while to realise, but I think I’m starting to wage war on low productivity. Will you join me as a general?
PS: While I’m recommending things – use AdBlock for Chrome. It helps computer performance and stops pesky ads. On AdelaideNow, I’m stopping around 21 each time.
PSS: I watch an enormity of comedy shows, particularly British one’s. I always wanted to be a comedian, and in some strange way, I have become funnier because there humour is rubbing off on me. So for me, that isn’t a waste of time.