My pretty beeminder graph for this journal has a gap in it after my phone disapeared last week. I found some holes in my backups, which prevented me getting access to beeminder and email for a week.
In total, I derailed from 7(!) goals due to my missing phone. 6 were true derailments, 1 was because I was unable to record a datapoint.
As the cliche goes, I learnt something from my time without the phone: lots of little bits of time were freed up. It made me realise I need to refocus.
I had already blocked reddit and hacker news on the phone. Also youtube (but with relapses). This left three ‘blessed’ channels that I allowed myself to consume as much as I wanted: rss, pocket and podcasts.
- I was subscribed to 112 podcasts.
- I had 506 unread articles in pocket.
- I was following 80 rss feeds in feedly
- I had 106 items on my personal backlog
Some people are able to comsume huge numbers of sources each day, sipping from the internet firehose, reading only the bits that interest them. I am one of those people who feels the need to read every article, listen to every podcast, in every feed, in case I miss something.
If I do miss things, then I feel bad.
Luckily, I don’t seem to feel bad if I never saw the thing in the first place, so I’m just going to cut down the number of sources, so I can consume them all in a sensible amount of time each day, and do something productive with the time left over.
I don’t want to be thinking about the limits all the time, so I’m preferring a gorge and purge approach here. I have set some limits and added tasks to check they are met every two weeks.
Initial limits are entirely arbitrary, based on my previous level of items: 50 podcasts, 50 feedly feeds, 50 items on bh (big purge here!)
I also added a new goal to delete 2 pocket articles a day in addition to the 2 I read, to get rid of cruft.
For beeminder goals, I have previously limited myself to the number I can fit in the widget on my phone’s screen, but I now feel I can go somewhat higher. The only thing that I need to be careful of is that the most urgent possible beemergency for each goal needs to be savable within the day it occurs on. That way I can just ignore the green and blues and concentrate on orange and red on any given day, as long as the reds fit on one screen, so I don’t overlook any, I should be fine.
I will still try and prune out any useless goals, but I couldn’t bring myself to kill any of the ones on my list currently, which is a good sign!
I have already rebuilt a list of podcasts from a backup, and paired it down to 45 subscriptions. (I will have lost the data on which episodes I have already listened to, a huge amount of information, especially since I often start old podcasts back in the archives. I previously used pocket casts because it apparently backed up this info, but upon changing phones I found that it did not actually work, much to my frustration, so I manually marked episodes I had listened to for some podcasts. Not something I can do this time around.
I had a look at the google podcast app, but it is missing too many features to work for me currently. I think I need to just embrase the fact that I’ll miss some things, and listen to some things twice. No big deal.
For feedly and backlog items I have purged a good number of items and scheduled a few more purges to get down to a nice number.
(I am always better at quitting entirely than keeping to a quota when it comes to bad habits. Allowing myself 10 minutes of reddit would be harder to stuck to than my current ban for example, and feel like I was depriving myself somehow.
I’ve also found that for myself, banning mediocre stuff results in me ending up doing more important good stuff instead, without feeling like so much of a burden.
Sitting in traffic on the way to work this week, listening to bad music on the radio, I realised that instead of trying to fill my day with productive time, I could see it more as banning mediocre time. Banning swiping through youtube videos without opening any of them, banning listening to adverts on the radio, banning sitting in traffic, banning washing dishes instead of letting a machine do it for me, banning reading bad books, reading the news, following politics, hitting snooze in the mornings, small talk, useless meetings,…