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Thursday, September 20, 2007

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Nick - this works so well that I find it worth doing on purpose. I wrote about it last year, here:

http://kylecordes.com/2006/11/10/distraction/

(Also, thanks for FeedDemon and TopStyle, I use and heartily recommend both.)

That sounds reasonable. I've been able to keep up with interesting feeds a lot faster since I bought FeedDemon, but my overall level of productivity has probably been about the same, as I've been on a work hiatus. I just find more interesting feeds and articles to fill the time.

I had a nice backyard the year I resolved to stay offline during a week vacation from work. Some very productive people that I know seem to check email once a day maximum, as opposed to the pattern I learned while working software support of leaving the email open all day. Donald Knuth gave up his email address many years ago.

Some people (myself included, at times) can get antsy if they don't get an answer to an email within 24 hours, but it can be hard to keep up at any rate with so much information coming through the pipe. I think some people can handle multiple simultaneous thought streams better than others, though. I worked with a woman who could work with two technicians on two separate calls (one on her desk phone and one on a mobile phone), while testing software fixes for Laser Radio Terminals, documenting problem resolutions and responding to emails as she waited for the technicians to report back. She was good at this; I would have never even dreamed of trying.

So I think I'm with you and Kyle on this. I'll have a very different schedule soon (different city, different job) and I'm going to try, if it'll work in the new context(and it may not), to set aside specific times to do the bulk of my online communications - consumption and creation - in brief, concentrated bursts. I'll try to build in a little online "play and learn time" each week outside of work, too.

As you're both in software development, do either one of you feel that this approach is manageable and helpful? Any tips for pulling it off?

That's a good idea... too bad I need that connection to work via a VPN...

Man, that's no joke. I used to take the laptop to the neighborhood coffee shop (which didn't have WiFi) when I really wanted to get work done.

a coffee shop WITHOUT Wi-Fi? They exist? :)

I've actually setup my laptop (not connected to the Internet) on my second desk. This is where I end up doing most of my work :)

@Keith, that sounds like a reasonable approach, although rather than tackle feeds and email in "brief, concentrated bursts," what I do is spend the first part of the day reading feeds and responding to email. When I'm done, I'll often close my email client until the end of the day so that it doesn't interrupt me when I'm coding.

I'd say that online "play and learn" time is important, too - sometimes you get some great ideas just randomly surfing around the Web.

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