October 2, 2011

Focus in chunks of 30

The theme of the year might become, "It isn't as hard as you think."

Resolution nine is done! The plan was to spend less than 30 minutes online for the month of September. Every morning I would fire up Outlook and Chrome, and set a 15 minute timer. I couldn't literally hear the ticking of the clock, but seconds were clicking off in the back of my brain.

Much of the email I get these days are newsletters filled with links. With the timer rolling, I would have to evaluate whether the article or story sounded interesting enough to click. On the few I clicked, a browser window would open, but I wouldn't read the story until I was done with all the email.

When I moved on from Outlook, I would check the blogs to see if there were any new posts. I read those first before moving onto the article I had opened before. I would usually have enough time to get through it all, but if not, I left the article open in case I had some extra time later in the evening. Facebook was last in line.

As the month wore on, I found it easier to come in under 15 minutes. I have a few email accounts, and one is where all the memberships, newsletters and spam end up. After a few days, I would look through the inbox and delete several emails before opening anything. With the time limit, it forced me to focus on what was important these days, and I didn't even want to waste the few seconds it took to open and skim over.

As always, I want these 30 day goals to create longer lasting changes. I plan to keep that timer clicking in the back of my mind, and keep the bar high on what is worth my time. In order to reduce the clutter and noise, this morning I am unsubscribing from the newsletters that regularly did not make the cut during September. I have also cleaned up my Facebook feed to get rid of the clutter that is getting in the way of updates from actual friends.

The internet isn't evil. It opens all of us to the world like no other tool has before. But it can easily become a distraction. Many of us flip on the tv without knowing if anything is on, simply out of habit. For me, the same goes for opening up the laptop. I know I will find something to hold my interest, but if I stopped and thought about it, isn't there something I would rather be doing?

Over the last 30 days, I only fired up the laptop if I had something specific to do. I had more time to spend reading, writing and running. There are fewer books in the stack by my bedside, I ran 106 miles, and I am nearly done with the corrections, editing and rewrite of my novel.

By cutting back tv and internet time, I have found time I already had. But I am always looking for more, and that is what October's challenge is all about.

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