The information diet

I have had a blog post in the drafts section for some time now, it is titled ‘rethinking our digital lives’. I will publish it some day soon but what actually got me thinking about writing that post was the fact that all of us spend a lot of our time on the internet. It may be for work or pleasure, doesn’t matter. The fact is that the ease of opening a new browser window or tab means that distractions are only a click away. That’s been a bit a of a problem for me and I suspect for many others. Something needs to be done about that and so I’ve decided to go on an information diet.

Here’s what I am going to do:

  1. Check email only three times a day.
  2. Check facebook and twitter once a day for not more than 30 minutes in total.
  3. Check my blog only when I decide to publish something.
  4. Any article which I deem worth reading, I will send to my Kindle. Thus, I can get to it when I have the time.
  5. 30 minutes of video everyday including YouTube.

Being able to restrict social media won’t be that hard but to deal with email I am going to need some help because I essentially use it as my to-do list. I’ve installed Boomerang for Gmail which will help me schedule replies, bring emails to my inbox when they need to be dealt with, etc. For reading articles I’ve been using SENDtoREADER which simply re-formats the article like Readability and sends it to my Kindle.

Just like food, there is some information that is good for you and some that is bad. Being able to focus on the good in this world of distractions is a hard thing and that’s why I think there is much value in choosing to do this. My experience with dieting is only a recent one but along with my polyphasic sleep experiment it has give me enough confidence in my ability to discipline myself that I think I can take on this task.

Finally, unlike the slow-carb diet experiment, this will not be a four-week experiment. I want to make this information diet a habit so that the extra time I get are put in meaningful work.