Thursday, August 25, 2011

If I buy a second computer, will I waste less time?

Seth Godin suggested a way to maximise the amount of productive work I do that's really gotten me thinking: buy a second computer to do all my procrastinatey stuff on (such as flash games, twitter and facebook, and culling my google reader feed).

In accordance with Seth's philosophy of creating ideas that spread, I'm going to selectively quote from his post (Are you making something?):

Let's define work, for a moment, as something you create that has a lasting value in the market. More and more, we're finding it easy to get engaged with activities that feel like work, but aren't. 
One reason for this confusion is that we're often using precisely the same device to do our work as we are to distract ourselves from our work.
Hence this proposal: The two-device solution
Only use your computer for work. 
Have a second device, perhaps an iPad, and use it for games, web commenting, online shopping, networking... (no need to have an argument here about [what constitutes work and what doesn't] ... draw a line, any line.... If you don't like the results from that line, draw a new line).
Now, when you pick up the iPad, you can say to yourself, "break time." And if you find yourself taking a lot of that break time, you've just learned something important.

Seth's argument seems reasonable - but it's really:

a) making me wrestle with my frugality and desire to reduce the amount of resources I use
b) retriggering my compulsive desire to buy a tablet.


Amanda said...

Hmm...don't want to be overly cynical but this does sound a wee bit like a rationalisation rather than a reason for buying a new gadget:) That said the idea of a separation of work and play activities can be quite good for productivity. IMO before you buy something new it's good to think about whether or not there is something you already have that you can re-purpose. Do you, for eg have a smart phone which is effectively a second computer? I'm increasingly, when I'm at work just using my phone for twitter and keeping my work pc for work- which I think works quite well as I have to make more of a conscious effort to check twitter rather than just constantly switching between windows.

With somethings though its hard to keep the work/leisure divide separate. My google reader is chock full of work related feeds as well as some leisure ones. I mostly read those on my phone because that handiest for when I'm waiting at the bus stop which is quite a productive use of time.

Karen said...

I'm inclined to agree with Amanda... Though it sounds like you really want the new *toy* and have at least got it in the correct category :-) Do you think browsing on your new tablet will be so much more fun and exciting than browsing on your existing computer that it justifies the expense and values-discomfort? If you consider items equivalent cost will you get more happy from the new toy or from a holiday or a series of days out or movies or books?

What I have been doing recently when I have a study deadline is closing my browser and not letting myself open it for an hour... then allowing 10 minute breaks. On my work machine I only allow myself gmail, and occasional fun science or news browsing. If setting boundaries doesn't work now, an extra, more portable computer won't help that situation.

Steve Hickey said...

You are both wise.

What I've done is get one month of pre-paid internet on my existing phone. Using it is a bit like having a dial-up modem, but it should let me test whether this two device solution has any merit.

Today at least, it felt like there was a clear separation between work and play, but that I did a bit too much playing.

Karen, I think that re-setting boundaries for myself is what I need to do next.