4. For focus and calm, check email twice a day (10am & 3pm). Go cold turkey on Facebook & online news. Take a break from reading my favorite blogs. And especially, stop looking at slide shows of houses on Zillow.
I think this was the single greatest thing I did for myself. I just (like just this moment) realized that I had a hard time writing about gaining free time from stopping TV & social events (Nic-Whole-ness #3) because #4 is where I gained time & a little bit of piece of mind! But first… let me start at the beginning.
I read several blogs about things my friends are doing, cooking, and DIY home things–especially uncluttering, plus I like to check out the NYTimes every once & awhile, and I have been perusing Zillow at least once a day. I love to cook & try out new recipes. I like making crafty (& cheap!) things for the house. And I can’t resist a good closet purge or process improvement. This leads to a long list of projects that I feel I MUST do at any given moment (more on that later). I like to gather ideas & acquire new projects, but rarely leave time to complete these new to dos.
I also love to check email, check Zillow, & read new blog posts as a means of procrastinating. If I don’t want to tackle something, I can still work “productively” at gathering new ideas, reading new things, exploring new recipes, or browzing for a house to buy. I feel like my unproductive time is still productive because I am learning new things to help me be more efficient, better organized, more informed, etc. But that doesn’t lead to any real work being done!
So the game plan was this. I had my blogs fed to Google Reader which was on my igoogle homepage; I removed the reader for the duration of Nic-Whole-ness & haven’t put it back on yet. Facebook , Gmail, Zillow were accessible on my ipod touch. The Zillow & Facebook apps got deleted. For gmail & my work email, I scheduled “check email” times on my calendar, but mostly tried to keep the applications closed if I wasn’t reading or responding to a message. I also created 3 new folders on my gmail that will be familiar to GTD readers…. @ACTION, @WAITING, & @Reference. Lots of the stuff in my inbox was there because I hadn’t decided what with it.
Once I tackled email & stopped adding new projects to my lists, things went much better than I anticipated. I only missed checking websites or blogs when I was trying to disctract myself from what I was trying to do. When I wanted to check Zillow, I thought about why & realized it was because I wanted to make progress on getting a home, but wasn’t sure what to do next. So I sat down & thought about what my next action should be… very GTD… and it worked!
I worked my way through several recipes I had wanted to make for awhile. And I finally used the Costco sized bag of cranberries in the fridge because I focused on the ingredients I had on hand instead of the new recipe I saw on my favorite blog. Eli & I finished a few uncluttering projects from Unclutter Your Life in One Week. One of my goals for 2010 was to simplify & unclutter, but only once I stopped finding new projects did we devote time to the activities we wanted to do, that were already on our plates.
Zen Habits would probably refer to this as a pillar of doing less. Dr. Edward Deming would call it constancy of purpose. Good to Great author Jim Collins would categorize it under culture of discipline. Whatever it is, I have unofficially titled it the “My brain isn’t fried when I get home & I am being more productive at work & I have stopped stockpiling random ingredients in the pantry in case we need them & we are making progress on deciding if/where/when we want to buy a house & my to do list is actually shrinking!” intervention of Nic-Whole-ness. Thank you #4!