Sunday, October 20, 2013

Media Diet

I listened to portions of the book "The Four Hour Work Week" by Timothy Ferriss recently on a car trip.  Don't really know why I picked it out--just in self-help gotta-get-more-organized mode, I guess.

Several of the author's suggestions were familiar: along the lines of "Eat That Frog", get your most important tasks out of the way first.  But he also advocates eliminating ALL time-wasting activity, and severely limiting contacts.  The "severely limiting contacts" is what got me started on my recent unsubscribe mission.  He weans his colleagues and business associates off of the expectation of rapid email responses, in order to only have to check and respond to email once or twice a week.

Guess what he has to say about social media, blogs, and the internet?  Exactly: they are time-wasters.  (After all, his premise is that, without all these constant distractions and non-essential non-work-related activities, you could get your job done in only four hours a week.)

Well, the advice gets more strident: go on a media diet for a week.  This means don't spend time keeping up with the news on television or radio or internet.  In fact, avoid any and all media, unless it is critical to getting your work done.

This intrigues me.  As an adult with ADD, I often get sucked into the internet vortex, horribly distracted and off-task, even when I start with something as innocuous and simple as checking the weather before getting dressed for the day.

Maybe there is a lesson hidden here: severely limiting the inputs to my brain can be a helpful thing.  I know I love being exposed to a daily dose of new and interesting (and often nerdy) ideas by listening to NPR, but is this really causing me too much distraction?  Would I be more productive--or at least have an easier time focusing and feeling less stressed--if I severely cut back my media exposure?

My Social Experiment: we'll see how this plays out over the next week.  (Disclaimer: in looking for images to accompany this posting, I spent about 30 minutes actually reading and digesting other ideas on media diets, including a blog post that resonated with me.  But it also took 30 minutes away from what I wanted to do with my time this evening.  Damn.)


  1. Well, this is a very good experiment.

    For one week, do limit the time spent on ``wasted` activities, and see how much more you can accomplish. Get a planner - or just a piece of paper and write down your activities (make a PLAN) and see how well it goes.

    Then you will know what distracts you and make you stay longer then planned. And knowledge is power - all the power to you!!! This is a great idea. Thanks for sharing!!!

  2. Great points! It's like a train wreck...I can't turn away.

  3. Some parts, I agree with him. I don't have cable TV or anything but Roku. If I want to watch a movie, I do, mostly I listen to Pandora while I'm doing other things, though. I don't do the social media. I do e-mail and my blogs. I have to part ways with him to a certain extent over the blog issue. Since I'm not in an office somewhere, a blog is my contact with friends and the outside world. I don't go crazy with either reading or writing my posts, but I do them. It's my artistic interaction, too, where I find inspiration, and where I find discussion of things that are important to my work - which is quilting. However, I do set time limits. My mother had a saying for everything. The one that would fit here is, "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater."