I feel generally good about my current level of news consumption. RSS feeds, forum posts, and even YouTube are all “news” sources for me, and I have been keeping my eyes of these things at least until after lunch for a while now. Yesterday I did one better and decided to push back news reading until after I processed a set of pictures as well. This way, I get a little push to finish another “real” task before I take a break.
One of the primary reasons why this is working is due to the realization that will power is a central issue of this experiment and is something that I want to give a higher priority to once again.
The Answer is Simple
If I’m ever tempted to check my email or read the news, I ask myself a simple question to put things into perspective:
Can I survive without it?
The answer is simple– of course I can.
Holding off from email or the news is then a simple matter. The temptation to quench my curiosity is ever-present, but it is manageable.
Room for Improvement
There is still room for improvement though. For one, my news reading is too free form– there’s no real time limit. I set a limit of 20 minutes today, which I mostly stuck to.
The interesting thing about limits is that they make you prioritize your actions. With today’s time limit, I scanned through headlines and forum posts at high speed and only lingered on the ones that looked really worthwhile.
Also, since I know that I can stay away from email for a week at a time, I know that I can also go without news for at least as long. Starting on Monday, I will only read the news every other day. Taking breaks throughout the day is important, so the main issue will be figuring out what to do that is not task-oriented (i.e. not work) in the absence of reading the news.
As I’m working on my own projects all day long, part of the draw of email and the news is seeing what others are doing for a bit. I think this has value, so how can I get a view of the external without it being a time sink?