Last week, I decided to do a productivity experiment/challenge that included living for a week as if I had no wifi at home (though I live with three other people, so I couldn’t actually turn it off). I had other challenges for the week as well, which I’ll recap throughout the week, but I want to start with this one because it’s such a profound challenge as an ever-connected Millennial.
Let me start with a disclaimer: I’m currently not in school and I have the chance to use the internet when I’m in the office, so I’m a point in my life when this is easier for me than it might have otherwise been. That being said, I have plenty of work I can (and should) be doing on the internet, so it was still a significant challenge.
The truth of the matter is, though, what was really challenging about spending the week without wifi at home wasn’t the work I needed to get done — it was the time-wasters I’m used to employing. I couldn’t spend all day endlessly checking email, scrolling through Facebook, or finding blogs to read. I used phone internet occasionally (with the justification that I would do that normally without wifi), but I tried to keep that to a minimum to emphasize the effects of the experiment.
If you’re someone who does any kind of creative work that doesn’t require use of the internet during the actual creative process, let me recommend that you try this experiment, even if it’s just for a day or two. This week, I wrote over 8000 words in five days. It actually wasn’t quite as many as I wanted to write, but I netted way more output than I had in the weeks before. In the evenings, instead of getting lost in the waves of the internet, I would sit down in front of my computer and have little else available to me than to keep adding to the story. And then, once I started writing, I wasn’t endlessly distracted by email pop-ups and Facebook notifications. If I got stuck on a scene, I just had to sit with it until I got unstuck. That alone, the necessity of sitting with something difficult until I could continue through it, was pretty magical.
I also found time for other things this week that I’d been neglecting — I meditated every day. I napped two different times. I read a lot, pitched a story, found (possible) housing for next year, spent great time with friends, and pre-prepped green smoothies for the week (detailed list made possible by my time log, which I’ll detail in an upcoming post). Obviously there are other variables (like the other parts of my productivity challenge), but the unavailability of my usual distractions was a huge help, especially in allowing myself to get deep enough into my work to get some serious creation done.
Additionally, when I did actually go to a coffee shop to get some internet work done, I was pretty darn focused because I knew I had to get my tasks done before I went home. There were some forays into time-wasting territory, but at a limited level that I felt totally okay with. We all need some mindless time — just not so much that it’s taking up time you could be productive or actually resting.
Overall: despite a weird schedule this week, I was able to get a lot done, which I totally think is at least in part due to this experiment. Interested? Why not give it a try, just for a day or two! Let me know how it goes!
I’m going to continue my challenge to use the tips from my upcoming productivity ebook and report back to you about the results! This week’s categories: “Ending Your Day,” “Efficiency,” “Beating Procrastination,” and “Accountability and Inspiration.”
“Ending Your Day”: Since I’m going to be continuing with my time journal from last week (blog post to come), I think it would make sense to tack on creating a “ta-da list” at the end of the day, which means I’ll list everything I accomplished over the course of the day (rather than lingering on what I didn’t accomplish). Have you tried it? Does it motivate you?
“Efficiency”: This week, I’ll be working on incorporating mini-breaks and sprints, in particular the “Pomodoro Technique,” the idea of which is to work in concentrated bursts of 25 minutes followed by 5-minute breaks (or 50 and 10), allowing no distractions during the course of each “pomodoro.” After four of these intervals, you give yourself a longer break, usually 15 to 20 minutes. It’s a technique I’ve used and appreciated before, but I’ll be more intentional with it this week.
“Beating Procrastination”: One of the best ways to overcome procrastination of specific tasks is to break them down into tiny steps. I have several important tasks I’m currently procrastinating, so this week, I’ll physically write down the tiny steps I’ll take to start my intimidating tasks.
“Accountability and Inspiration”: I’m anticipating that the above challenge will force to finish some of the big tasks that are bogging me down, so my item in this category is rewarding myself for finishing a big task. For example, there is some very important paperwork that I have been avoiding filling out. If I get that done, I’m going to treat myself to vintage shopping (which I need to do before the 1940s ball, but I can’t do it until I get that task done!).
Care to join me on any of these? Let me know! I’d love to follow along with your progress!