The 4-Hour Work Week Media Fast Experiment
I recently began listening to Timothy Ferriss' 4-Hour Work Week. The book proposes many interesting ideas, but by far the most immediately applicable are his productivity tips. The one I want to highlight in this post is the media fast experiment, which forces participants to avoid all news for a week. Instead of being the one to relay news to others, be the one asking others what's in the news.
I'm on my third day of the experiment. I've avoided visiting Digg and reading feeds on Google Reader. In an effort to be completely honest, I will admit that I did hit Techmeme yesterday and CNN today for about 5 minutes. I felt guilty both times and that feeling a good sign.
The effects have been moderate, but promising and encouraging. I've been getting more done at work and completing more personal to-do items out of work. Wasting time online is a slave to Parkinson's law (which Ferriss mentions in his book), which basically states that a task will grow to fill the time allotted to it. This is especially true for my RSS subscriptions, which are literally never-ending. Since I wouldn't allot a set time limit to my time-wasting (by definition), my time-wasting would grow to fill time until I got bored or tired.
Depending on how comfortable I feel with being able to control myself, I might allocate (by alarm) an hour or so sometime this weekend to go through Google Reader. Even though the experiment calls for a complete fast, an hour a week is a huge improvement over the multiple hours a day and I should be happy that I haven't gone mad yet with all this newly-recovered spare time.
And I just came across this blog post with a great summary of the book. Check out the productivity tips under Step II: E is for Elimination.