How did you spend the last hour?

I want to talk about time, and how it’s spent. Almost every time I read about or listen to anyone talk about time management and personal development, they eventually get to TV. They say things like “Want to spend an hour a day learning a new skill? Just drop an hour of television.” or “Watch less television to improve your ability to pay attention.” While I wholeheartedly agree with this advice, I’m unable to apply it because I don’t watch TV.

Tonight, though, while mindlessly surfing the internet, I came across a wonderfully-titled article by Corbett Barr on Expert Enough: The Lost Art of Becoming Good at Things. I wholeheartedly agreed with the content of this article as well, but one sentence jumped out and stabbed me in the self-identity. In discussing how people make excuses for not learning and achieving things by saying they’re too busy, Corbett makes the typical comment “Really? How many hours of TV did you watch this week?” but then he asks:

How much time did you spend mindlessly surfing the Internet?

“Oh.” I said.

I believe that I’ve been excusing myself from learning and achieving things by saying, “Not only am I busy, but I already don’t watch TV!” …and yet… I definitely spend more time wandering the dregs of the internet than I would like.

Because good advice is a waste of your time if it doesn’t change your behaviour, I decided I would change my behaviour. I started using StayFocusd for Chrome several months ago, and it drastically cut the time I spend on sites like Facebook and YouTube. There are, however, more than 360 million sites on the internet, so I can’t block all of the time-wasting sites. Also, exploring is a good thing, so I don’t just want to have a whitelist (besides, I can waste plenty of time on very otherwise-productive sites).

My solution, instead, is just to be more mindful of my time. I’ve set up a script on my computer using Windows’ Scheduled Tasks feature that will bring up the following image fullscreen every hour:

How did you spend the last hour? Do you want to spend the next hour the same way? Yes? Wonderful. No? Stop doing it. Now. Right now.


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About Malcolm

Constantly consciously expanding the boundaries of thoughtspace and actionspace.

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