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Productivity in an age of constant connectivity

07.24.09 @ 11:22PM Tags : , , , ,

I affixed a quote from a GQ interview with Philip Roth into my writing notebook before leaving for Costa Rica; it seems especially relevant now that I’m trying to shut out New York City for considerable chunks of every day.

“I’m not writing when I’m walking around. I can only really write when I’m alone in a place that’s mine, that I’m accustomed to, and there’s no interruption. I don’t have a phone. I don’t have anything that can distract me. And I spend the hours ruminating. If you spend six or seven hours ruminating on your invention, the next part of it will come to you.”

For younger creatives, I suspect the most common distraction is not the telephone but rather the internet; having the world’s information at your fingertips can be quite the omnipresent temptress. For anyone who writes (or otherwise works) on a Mac, I recently discovered an app (aptly) named Freedom; I can’t recommend it enough. It shuts off all network connectivity for a specified amount of time, and what seems like a simple hack (turning off wireless would have the same effect, really) turns out to be a godsend — because you specify the amount of time you want “Freedom,” the app allows you to keep track of how long you’ve been working, rather than just having some ephemeral sense at the end of the day of having tried to work a lot. And no, you can’t change your mind; if you want to get back on the ‘net before your time’s up, you have to restart your computer, which is just enough of a road block to prevent you from procrastinating.

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  • Turning off cell phones could help, too. So many people are certain something special will pass them by or someone will have an emergency that they could’ve helped with *if only* I had kept my cell phone on.

    More likely people will just call to talk about nothing.

    Turn off the internet and the phone and don’t answer the door either while you’re at. At least do this for two hours chunks throughout the day and I bet anyone would see a productivity improvement, not just young’ns.

  • just came back to this post to download Freedom so that i can stop pretending that
    turning my wireless off really affects me, as it’s just a click away….