Haven't gotten too much done the last few days. I was in Saigon for three months, so I had to pack up and finish errands there before moving on, and I haven't really gotten settled into Kuala Lumpur yet. I'm not really working on the big expansive projects I've got, I'm doing little odds and ends with my time, including giving in to a fair bit of distraction.
And then I realized - I'm actually doing okay, because I'm not engaging in addictive pastimes. Some pursuits, once sucked in, really grab you and hold you. Things with high levels of stimulation, learning curves that keep you in flow, and social elements are the worst. I've never played World of Warcraft, but I imagine that's why it's so addictive. Heck, I used to spend quite a lot of hours on Conquer Club each day, which is an online version of Risk. Part of it was, you'd get into team games, and if you dropped out you'd hose your team.
So the last few days, not much has really happened... but that's okay, I've been screwing off and wasting time on Hacker News, Quora, Less Wrong, and various blogs in my RSS Reader. That's not good, but it's not so terrible. It's easy to let those fall off and get back onto track.
This was part of a conscious shift I made a while ago - get off anything that's a consistent presence in my life that's not producing good things. It took a while, but I cleared out a lot of that stuff. How about you? Got any addictive pastimes? Could you, perhaps, swap them for less addictive pastimes? The latter paves the way to dropping out of pastimes that don't serve you in favor of activities that really do.
Last week, I wrote "On Getting More Done – Top-down, or bottom up?" -
I described two strategies of getting more done. The first way is to take on a lot of unbreakable commitments and follow through on them, and you'll naturally be forced to optimize to make all of your commitments. So if you play a competitive sport, work full time, study full time, and are helping run a charitable project - well, you'll naturally move fast and optimize your time. If you're the kind of person that always sees unbreakable commitments through, this can work quite well.
The downside is that you risk burning out or crashing. And that's a very real downside.
The other strategy for getting more done would be to gradually reclaim parts of your life. This would be identifying where your time is currently going, and gradually transitioning that time from activities you'd like to do less of into activities you'd like to do more of. I elaborated on this in "Want to read more? Okay, here’s a few ways to do so" -
What does it take to read? Well, you need a book or some sort of words or something. Some light. And – time.