Friend of Bill W
My name is Robert, and I’m addicted to stupid shit. This addiction has turned me into a very unproductive person, a lackluster friend, and a generally maladjusted dimwit with dwindling reserves of both creativity and common sense. I need to break this addiction to stupid shit and relearn the ability to focus, concentrate, and pay attention to one task for long, unbroken periods of time.
One stupid thing I’m addicted to is Facebook. I don’t start my day intending to let Facebook sidetrack me, but it always does. I’ll scroll down and read every post that’s been put up since the last time I looked—which is typically right before I go to sleep. I’ll comment on a few, I’ll “like” a few others, and then I’ll invariably start clicking on any links I see. This is ironic, because although I don’t give a flying fuck about any of this shit, I don’t think I’ve missed anything any of my “friends” has posted in several years.
I’m also addicted to Gmail. I’ve read scores of articles on productivity over the years, and one common theme that’s always addressed is the idea of checking email on a set schedule—at the top of the hour, or a set number of times each day. At a minimum, I check mine every two minutes. All day, every day, whenever I’m home. I’m not kidding.
In fact, I’m tempted to check it right now. My plan here is to finish this post without any interruptions, and I’ve blocked off a period of time during which I intend to do just that. In all probability, I have at least two new emails sitting in my inbox—along with a handful of text messages and missed calls on my phone (don’t get me started on my instant messaging problem)—and it’s killing me that I haven’t checked any of this in at least ten minutes. My internal alarm is fucking screaming at the moment.
This happens when I read, too. I’m a fast reader, and I can usually plow through a 300 page book in two or three nights. Over the past few years, I’ve become completely incapable of reading more than ten pages or so before I’m compelled to pick up my phone and start fucking around with it.
It needs to stop. I need discipline of the sort that’s only going to be formed by forcing myself to cut the shit. This isn’t a luxury. It’s not a skill I’m looking to cultivate just for the hell of it. My inability to focus is hurting me professionally, it’s not doing me any favors personally, and it’s the primary reason why I’ve been so unproductive on this site and everywhere else, writing-wise.
BREAK: I was just interrupted by my fucking landline. See?
To combat this shit, I’m putting myself on a program. Starting today, I’m going dark with Facebook, and I’ll only be checking my email at the top of every hour. I’ll force myself to avoid abusing both of these things, and I’m going to devote more of my time both to actual work—and to getting my writing skills back (provided I ever had any in the first place).
I’ll let you know how this goes.