Site Rationing (distraction management)

An everyday system, TM, is a simple, commonsense solution to an everyday problem, grounded by a pun or metaphor. Propose/discuss new systems here.
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reinhard
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Site Rationing (distraction management)

Post by reinhard » Tue Feb 12, 2008 3:05 pm

A long time ago, I started keeping a list of anti-bookmarks, web sites that I wasn't allowed to look at from 9-5 because they distracted me too much from my job. This worked brilliantly -- cutting out a very small number of sites (most of the benefit came from these 3: slashdot, nytimes, fidelity) significantly reduced procrastination, I would guess on the order of 50% or more. I originally wrote my anti-bookmarks on post-its pasted to my monitor, but now they're on my Big Picture.

But there was one big website that I couldn't put on an anti bookmarks list that was still opening the door for major procrastination: my personal email (gmail). I have to check this site during the day, and it's not always predictable when. But I do not have to check it nearly as much as I'd become accustomed to. The solution? I added a daily task called "check" to the routine column of my daily index card (I think I'm going to rename it, "site rationing" or some abbreviation). Every time I feel the need to check my personal email I first make a mark next to this task. There's no hard limit as to how many marks I can make, but it's embarrassing to see a lot, and that makes me think twice before checking. There's a natural ceiling at 4 marks a day, because in the conventional mode of tallying, at every 5 you have to draw a horizontal line through your vertical marks and that's visually discouraging, so I rarely do it. And I've found that 4 actually works out to be a pretty good number: enough to keep on top of my personal email, but not enough for significant distraction to creep in. It also focuses me. I check BETTER as well as less frequently -- the distraction isn't really a distraction anymore, it's something positive, something intentional and valuable.

This system takes/leverages elements from a number of previous everyday systems: anti-bookmarking and distraction management, of course, but also negative tracking, chain of self-command, and habitcal style "visual motivation." A good example of "code reuse", for you software engineers out there :-).

Reinhard

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Web Ration = Bration

Post by reinhard » Wed Feb 13, 2008 5:14 pm

I guess in the awkward neologistic tradition of blog and blist I should call this "brationing" (web rationing). A tad obnoxious, but fits better on my todo card then spelling it out (even more so further shortened to "bration").

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Post by reinhard » Mon Mar 17, 2008 1:54 pm

"Blimit" might be better... (though it already has another -- pretty obscure -- techie meaning).

Reinhard

P.S. it's been working well for me, whatever I wind up calling it.

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Post by kccc » Mon Mar 17, 2008 3:45 pm

I really like this one.... and now I want to know what blimit means to techies.

BTW, I used your slash system for S-day goodies. Eye-opening.

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Post by reinhard » Thu Mar 20, 2008 1:48 pm

It's very obscure: "number of completed RCU updates invoked in a batch," if that means anything to you. I don't feel bad about repurposing it.

Since I can't quite make up my mind between bration and blimit, maybe I'll formulate the system as a kind of geeky aphorism rather than as a single term:

"Bration your browsing, blimit your blogs."

And then you can take your pick which b-term you want to write on your daily card.

Happy the S-day S-tally is working. Even if you just use it short term, it can be instructive. Both "blimits" and S-tallies are just implementations of the idea of negative tracking -- using the pain of tracking as incentive not to do something, making stuff you'd prefer not to do so often unpleasantly visible, so your only way not to see is not to do.

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Post by paulrone » Thu Mar 20, 2008 6:09 pm

I'm gonna use this one myself.

...Right after I finish checking the new posts here.
-Sometimes Fundamentalist and self-appointed King of the S-day Moderates
"As it is (sometimes) written, so let it (sometimes) be done."

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