Over 8 years ago I wrote a piece entitled I could spend hours doing this… which outlined 14 steps to fritter away a few unproductive hours in the day. There’s been a lot of technical change since then, so I figured it was time to provide an updated guide.
The range of options have exploded, so where to start?
- Pick up your smartphone and check the notifications on there. Let them take you wherever they want to lead you. Mine first interesting notification for today happens to be an article on Medium so that’s where I go. Feel free to go wherever your’s takes you.
- At the bottom of the Medium article there is a range of more stories begging for my attention, but I choose to click on the arrow at the top of the screen which takes me to the list of articles that Medium has decided may be of interest to me.
- Ironically the second set of Medium articles are all within the Productivity section – 43 Bluepoints on productivity followed by 12 Productivity Hacks to Get Stuff Done are today’s favourite diversions. Lists are easy to consume and just as easy to forget. Bulletpoint 42 was a highlight: “Fac, si facis. That’s Latin for “Do it, if you’re going to do it.””
- From Medium it’s time to switch over to Flipboard, I’m not sure what the trigger was for this switch, but I’m freewheeling so anywhere is acceptable. Flipboard has an endless stream of articles so there’s little chance of running out of things to read. You can even read about the same thing from multiple sources if you want to get the same perspective from different people.
- Having spent some time on my smartphone it’s probably about the right time to switch devices particularly as that small screen and poor posture aren’t very good for me. Switching devices is another way of simulating that feeling of getting things done without having to actually do anything. Using multiple devices makes me feel busier, especially if I set up notifications on each of them.
- The switch to a different device need not precipitate a change of diversion, but there are plenty to choose from, so why not. Time to make the move to LinkedIn.
- LinkedIn is chocked full of distraction, you don’t need to venture very far from the home page, but if you do have some notifications that increases the goodness. Where are all those people I used to work with now? Who’s got a work anniversary? Who’s started a new position? Who’s posting corporately defined marketing material? Who’s liking corporate marketing material? Who’s commenting on an article? Not many of them. Who’s posted something from Medium? I could return to the top of the list at any time but decide, instead to move on.
- What’s up next? Twitter? You need to check both LinkedIn and Twitter because they are different constituencies. The stream of updates from Twitter can take me practically anywhere as long as I am following enough people and don’t set up any form of filtering. Following some news accounts and I’ll have fresh content all day, no need to get something done when you can live in the flow. But eventually, I get bored of Twitter and need to move onto another source.
- Blog posts are still, for me, the main source of information and for that I use Feedly. Feedly nicely goes around the internet and collects all of the blog posts, from all of the feeds that you’ve asked it to browse. Pick the right set of feeds and I’ve got a fresh crop of material every day and throughout the day. I can even point Feedly at Medium feeds and keep going around that circle as often as I like.
- I don’t know whether you’ve noticed, but I’m avoiding email. No need to worry though, there are still plenty of sources to go to. Slack is your next distraction for me. It’s time to look through the various communities and channels for more sources of distraction. Hopefully there’s a discussion ongoing somewhere that I can read through. If I’m fortunate someone in the organisation has set up a bot to scrape data from somewhere else into Slack, even more information to read through.
- In the modern workplace Slack isn’t the only port for collaboration distractions, if you are fortunate you’ve also got Yammer. There’s likely to be a discussion somewhere on Yammer that’s getting everyone heated about something wonderfully trivial.
- In the modern workplace Slack and Yammer aren’t the only ports for collaboration distractions, if you are fortunate you’ve also got Workplace by Facebook. Someone will have helpfully cross posted some of the content from each of the alternatives into each of the other alternatives. There are a nice collection of notifications waiting for my attention.
- In the modern workplace Slack, Yammer and Workplace by Facebook aren’t the only ports for collaboration distractions, if you are fortunate you’ve also got Microsoft Teams. I need to check all of the sources, because I don’t want to miss out on something important.
- To get another view of the work that others are doing there’s also Microsoft Office Delve. Delve will shows me a view of all of the important interactions going on in my network.
- I suppose that it’s time to check some email, but perhaps I should start with my personal email. If you are looking for further distraction the best way is to read personal emails on your smartphone. Hopefully you will receive a notification from one of the other apps on your smartphone to take you off exploring somewhere else.
- While I’m on my smartphone perhaps I should check one of the news apps that’s on there, I wouldn’t want to miss out on anything important.
- Hopefully, by this time, I’ve received a number of messages via the numerous messaging platforms that I’m subscribed to. I need to check each one because I never know what I may have missed.
- But then I really should check my work email. If you want to be really distracted don’t use any of the capabilities within your chosen email product and wade through each and every email, including the emails which are notifications from Twitter, Yammer, Workplace, etc.
- Randomly return to a step and restart the cycle from there.
Have I missed anything?