Some of you may have noticed that a chunk of the writing here has once again been about productivity (beyond just Keyboard Maestro). Part of this is what I call ‘the natural cycle of human interest’ — a thing which ebbs and flows over time and topics bringing you back to the same topics you once thought to be fully explored. I think we have all experienced this at some point in our lives — things which were once near obsession are mostly out of our heads, only to pop back up years later.
I used to write a productivity blog, and a photography blog too. Those are still topics I know and love, but they aren’t what has captivated most of my attention.
As with everyone I get bored. I get bored with reading the same shit on fifteen different websites each day (and I know I always say this), but then I quickly go back to posting that same shit like everyone else.
Because it is easy.
And some times easy is all you have the mental capacity for.
Sometimes it’s all I have the time for.
”I need to post something to the site today, I have like ten minutes. Oh, new version of (popular iOS app).
It pisses me off to think about wasting the attention of all of my readers like that, not that the update or linked post wasn’t good — it just wasn’t unique in either my thoughts on it, or on how easy it was to find.
And so, as I mentioned the other day, I am seeking to change this. One of the biggest changes I have made is to recapture my time by reducing the time needed to spend on my three biggest time sucks: Twitter, RSS, and Email.
Reducing time spent on email is simple: Unsubscribe from a bunch of email newsletters, and be less responsive to email overall. The less responsive you are, the more people realize that emailing you may not be the best option, and perhaps then they figure out their problem all on their own, and if they don’t they will wait for you. You take control of email not by organizing, scripting, or Inbox Zero, you take control by not letting email control you.
Reducing time spent on Twitter is also easy: unfollow people. I’ve decided, once again, that I am ruthlessly unfollowing people who tweet stuff I just don’t find interesting. Sorry, but this is about my time not your ego and it has nothing to do with whether I like you. I don’t like opening Twitter to see hundreds of new tweets, I prefer to just see dozens.
Ah RSS, my old time suck — Fever told me I had an insane amount subscribed RSS feeds: 774 feeds. Of course, most of those are Sparks (meaning unchecked, but used for the ‘Hot’ algorythm), but about half (or 375 if you must know) were sites I read everyday. And now my RSS feed count stands at 624 total and only 103 sites I read daily. A lot of this is thanks to the excellent curation of Tab Dump, which allows me to read less news sites, but the others were tough choices.
It was tough to pare down my RSS, but only because I didn’t want to, as I feared missing out on stuff. Who do I keep, who do I say goodbye to? In the end I only kept the sites that I truly derive enjoyment from reading more often than not. Those are the sites which consistently output interesting things — the sites that I want to be.
Why read sites that run counter to what I want to make with this site? And amazingly, when you apply that criteria, most very large sites, very popular sites, vanish from your RSS feed.
But it feels good.
It feels freeing. It feels like I am not buried under the weight of things I must read — things I must see and know. Now I simply have time — time to write, time to relax, time to work, time to think, and time for my kids.
Because if there is anything that I have learned in this pursuit: it is that one must first feel the freedom of time before they can gain any sense of focus.
And I desperately want more focus.
I want less, no, I want to want less stuff.
But instead of self imposing limits so that I may only have less, I am instead deciding to find that same sense of fulfilment and enjoy by diving deeper into the things I want. Instead of feeling the need to constantly read RSS headlines, I want to find the joy in truly reading more from writers I admire. And instead of filling lost time with less than great articles, I am choosing to fill that time with the plethora of books, real books, waiting to be read.
These are small steps in a larger pursuit, but I must start somewhere. I’ve started here, but I won’t stop.