Last Friday I felt like making a short cheerful tune, and ended up with this. 🙂
I admit it. I made this meme … on the toilet. In this age of mindful eating, mindful parenting, mindful business, mindful everything, how could I sink so low? Read and weep. (Spoiler: there’s a happy end.)
Until recently I had this outdated hand-me-down phone. The pharaohs of ancient Egypt used the same model to stay in touch with their alien ancestors. Half of the apps did not work. Half of the sites did not load. It only had wifi. Perfect!
I used the old thing primarily to text my wife or set reminders. (I have no social life.) But some persistent thoughts kept nagging at me. They whispered:
- With a proper smartphone you could leave your camera, MP3-player and notebook at home.
- You’d take more pictures again.
- You’d always have a GPS with you, even on your bicycle.
- You could Skype or listen to TED-talks while cleaning the house.
- You could update your calendar and Trello wherever you go.
- You’d finally join the 21st century.
I ignored these arguments for years, because I saw how people around me were being bossed around by their phones’ bleeps and peeps from morning till evening. It’s worse than having children.
But I’d join them eventually.
I was addicted the moment I sat down and browsed the Play Store. After day one I had to remove Facebook ASAP before my IQ dropped irreversibly. But Coach.me and Instagram already had their hooks too deep in my mind, even though I had disabled all distracting sounds and push notifications.
Sure it’s fun that I was taking more pics again. The phone fits more comfortably in my pocket than any camera ever did, so I take it everywhere.
However, this is how I used to take pics:
- Take camera out of manly bag (if I had it with me)
- Take camera out of case
- Turn camera on
- Take picture
With Instagram, this became:
- Take phone out of pants
- Unlock phone
- Tap camera app
- Take picture
- Tap picture to tap share
- Tap Instagram
- Crop picture
- Adjust brightness and contrast
- Spend minutes going back and forth between filters
- Think of witty caption
- Think of hashtags
- Decide which social media to share on
- Check who used the same hashtags
- Get lost on instagram commenting and liking
- Check if anyone responded to my pic
- Repeat steps 14 and 15 compulsively
- Finally put phone away
- Feel internal pull to repeat steps 14 and 15 compulsively
And that’s just 1 app!
It was the same with Facebook, Twitter, Coach.me, WordPress… Each one demanded my attention and chipped away at my precious time. Enough!
I didn’t want to go back to my pharaoh phone, so I sought a middle way.
Batchman to the rescue
I happen to be the ubernerd of a small company. My colleagues routinely turn to me when their computer says “no“ or when a client has trouble with our products. In the past this meant my real work was constantly getting interrupted. It was awful! Then I turned it around with the “batch it crazy” technique.
Now I work at home 4 days out of 5. In the morning I begin with my most important tasks. I don’t let anything interfere until 11 AM. Then I take an hour to check e-mails and social media in case any colleagues or clients need me. Once a week I’m at the office to help where I can.
This batching approach really pays off. So I decided to apply the same principle to my smartphone abuse.
After testing some apps (the irony!) I find Stay Focused quite helpful and easy. I’ve set it to block attention hogs like Instagram if I use them more than 10 minutes a day.
Now I’m back to taking pics without posting them online immediately. I batch all the filtering, uploading, captioning, hashtagging and whatnot into 10 minutes in the evening or during lunch break.
So what exactly is the “batch it crazy” technique?
- Identify what scatters your attention.
(troubleshooting? social media? phone calls? recurring worries?)
- Schedule a recurring time slot for it.
(an hour a day? one day a week?)
- Batch it into the time slot, instead of letting it distract you many times a day.
How can you apply it?
I’m onto something here. It started off as a long article about Work-Life balance. Then it took the proportions of an e-book, and now … well, you’ll just have to wait and see.
In the meanwhile it’s keeping me away from blogging. If you want know when it’s finished, drop me an e-mail and I’ll keep you posted.
Here are some teasers:
- 10 minute recipe for a successful day
- Should you always treat others like you want to be treated yourself?
- Taking breaks like a boss
Be a dear and mail me your feedback. Don’t hold back, I can take it!
Grey is the new black
I’m 36. My first grey hairs have appeared. In my eyebrows! I didn’t expect them there. They just pop up when and where they please. I have no say in the matter.
I’m taking control! (Right?)
I read a lot about life-hacking, productivity, effectiveness … I adopt better habits and see how they lead to positive changes both at work and at home.
For example: years ago at the office, we just took work as it came. In between copywriting, audio editing, video editing, designing websites, brochures or posters (and occasionally serving as a substitute yoga instructor), I did whatever landed on my desk.
There was no clear focus. Things didn’t get done when they were due. Stuff piled up. I had little to say and felt like I was constantly putting out fires. Something had to change, and it most certainly did when I introduced GTD at work.
Now surprises still pop up and there are a lot of loose ends, but we deal with it in a more relaxed way. We’re better prepared, take more time for what matters and our service has improved a great deal. I even work from home a couple of days a week.
It feels like I’m proactively taking life into my own hands.
But am I really?
If I pause to take a better look, I notice how this body and mind do everything by themselves. The heart beats, lungs breathe, eyes blink, hairs turn grey … The body keeps on hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling and feeling while the hands move to type these words.
Where do the ideas come from that lead to this text? I don’t know what my next thought will be. Yet: suddenly there it is! Something approves of it or rejects it. All by itself.
It all happens automagically. And yet I take it all so personally. Without much thought I feel responsable for what this body and mind do. But if “they” do it all on their own, what is this “I” anyway? And what is this “you” then?