This one's big.
Lets see you've got some seriously addictive habit, a way you want to compulsively waste time. Maybe online, or otherwise.
Maybe you've tried to quit, and haven't been successful, or maybe you wouldn't mind if you indulged a reasonable amount of time (say, an hour a day max?)...
..and that's fine, except sometimes you'll click over to your habit and burn 3 hours, or 5 hours, or worse.
I know I've done it. And maybe you have too, whether it's compulsively purposelessly checking stocks and financials even if you don't have any real cash to invest right now, or getting stuck on online Chess or a strategy game, or click-click-clicking through Hacker News or Reddit and repeatedly refreshing, or -- perhaps worst of all -- geting in a click circuit fo all your favorite news and social media accounts... endlessly.
Is there an answer?
I think so!
Only do one of those tasks when you've got a hard commitment in an hour or less.
The danger of getting sucked into reading a news site isn't that the news will kill ya... it's that 5 hours of mindlessly zombie-reading the news will kill ya.
Of course, before you do this, finish your preparations. Get your work materials out, write an agenda if it's a meeting or call, or otherwise be ready to start. Then set an alarm for 5 minutes before the event if you're worried about missing it, and then indulge... and then off to indulge with a greatly lessened chance of damage.
(Or you could just do SelfControl Always On...)
This follows on from "On Getting More Done – Top-down, or bottom up?" - the basic idea behind that post is you can get a lot more done by either taking on a lot more responsibilities, which forces you to adjust and use your time better - this is the "top down" strategy. Alternatively, you can slowly build and reclaim time from your life, moving your time from less meaningful areas into more meaningful areas.
But let's get more specific. I read a lot of books. Most smart people want to read a lot of books, but don't find the time to do it. So, how to read more?
This is where the bottom-up approach shines. You slowly move time from less meaningful areas to more meaningful areas.
"Sebastian, I just want to read more. I don't care about this tracking stuff."
I have a big project I'm working on (secret for now, haven't decided if I should write about it yet or not), and I've been seriously procrastinating.
It's not that I don't want to do it. It's something I arrived at myself, is very inline with my Life Nomadic goals, and will be very exciting to complete. It's my perfect project.
I'd been working on it for a week, though, and had been getting very little work done. To use a rough estimate, I had done maybe 5% of the work in a week. Twenty weeks until completion is way too long.