How did I have such a productive week?

I was more productive at work this last week than any other week this last few months (maybe longer than that).  How did I do it?

I didn't read Twitter.  At all.

On Monday I was having a strange network problem made it impossible for me to access Twitter from my laptop.  After three days I had, without realizing it, broken the Twitter habit.  (Thank God I never activated the post-by-SMS feature.)

This is ironic since Twitter is having an awesome week of PR.  They've been mentioned every day in The New York Times, coverage of Obama's Joint Session on Tuesday has been mentioning Twitter, Google's PR department started a twitter feed, Newt Gingrich has been posting tweets that sound like a 12-year old heckling a movie he doesn't undestand, and that's just half the PR they're getting.  They're getting so much press, you'd think they're doing the kind of full-court press a company does when they want to be bought (you don't think those stories just happen, do you?  No, someone from a PR company pitched every single one of them, I assure you).  And yet, this was the week that I stopped reading twitter.

Why is Twitter bad for your time management?  If you are like me there are too many interruptions and distractions that prevent work from getting done. There's always an excuse not to work on a project when there's email to read, co-workers to catch up with, and so on.  Twitter had become another procrastination device.  Do something productive?  Nah, I'll check my twitter instead then spend the next hour surfing the various URLs people are mentioning.  Pay attention at a meeting?  Nah, check twitter via my iPhone!  Now I've missed half of what people have said, and I'll spend the afternoon researching what I should have heard people say at the meeting.  Twitter is an anti-productivity device.

"But Tom," you say, "anyone with a tiny bit of self-control could save their twittering reading for after work.  It's like, you know, dessert after a fine meal."   Well, that may be true, but anyone familiar with my time management philosophy understands that I don't focus so much on time management because I'm good at it: I have to focus on time management because I'm so bad at it.   I have little self-control.  I'm easily distracted.  If you don't have those problems then Twitter is just fine for you.  That ain't me.

I have bad habits.  I know it.  My time management "techniques" are often ways to "trick" me into better habits.  Weeks that I trick myself properly I am productive.  Weeks that I don't... not so much.  The goal of my time management writing has been to record these tricks (and ones I've heard from others) in hopes that other people find them useful too.

So my "trick" of the week?  If Twitter has become a distraction, delete it.  You won't miss it.  Sorry to be the naysayer on the cool new technology that all the cool kids use, but I had a productive week thanks, in part, to a lack of Twitter.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Time Management

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8 Comments | Leave a comment

I had a crushing week, which I whined about via twitter (typically on the train, around midnight) ;-)

Twitter is an interesting phenomenon. I've just been getting active in it and looking for other sysadmins. I've had other sysadmins express interest in a list of IT-centric twitterers to follow, since the built in twitter search is so unsuited to admins (you can't have "admin" in your name, and you can't search by anything except username and first/last name). Hashtags (http://hashtags.org/) has been my primary resource, but I know that not everyone uses tags in their posts.

Twitter isn't enough to build a full-blown social network on, and it's just barely a foundation to connect people. It's sort of like blogging via instant messenger.

That being said, I think it has the chance to help us relate to each other, and what we go through daily. To see how the other half lives, regardless of which half you're in.

And yes, it is a really fun time sink. Thanks for re-following me ( I'm http://twitter.com/standaloneSA ).

Also, if anyone is interested in a full blown social network for sysadmins, you might check out http://www.sysadmin-network.com/ which is just getting started. I think it has the chance to be a great resource for admins everywhere.

I've been blocking Twitter for a few months now through my hosts file, and I have witnessed some similar productivity gains. It's definitely not for everyone.

It's definitely NOT a site you play with at my place of employment. They frown on anything not directly work related. In fact Sourceforge has been recently blocked... going to have to talk to them about that.

Great article and good advice. There are a lot of people who justify their distractions by calling it work related, like "I'm keeping up with the latest tech trends", etc... It takes a while and a lot of lost productivity before you realize that you're really just indulging yourself, except that, as a tech person, work and play are often more closely related than for people with other interests.

Before people used to kill time in front of TV. Now they kill time in front of the computer.

I have never had Facebook or MySpace or Twitter or Ipod or any of that. I'm a happy man.

Ditto Facebook.

And your post is another good reason to have more than one e-mail address.

You may still read Twitter without getting distracted.

Turn it into an offline messenger.

I did it using http://nutshellmail.com/help/

It's cool because it sends me a digest of tweets by email, and I read them whenever I want.

Great video ad Joel. Has that groovy sense that you cant wait to see what is going on. Like the amazing race. Also I thought that the content was relevant and to the point and it did make you feel with all the tech and flashing http://www.frogmix.com/search/flashing , that there was an element of competitiveness that would eventually take place. Great Job, caught my attention.

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