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Intentional laptoping

Why?

We are increasingly distracted and unproductive on our laptops.

Our work is bleeding into the rest of our lives and our anxiety to be productive is impacting our social skills and mental healt

What?

A practice to give us intentionality in the way we use our technology to stop it using us

How?

Use your laptop for one thing at a time and keep everything else closed.

This is a very simple but powerful method (I didn't say easy)

Set up

For this to work you need to clean up your laptop

  • Close all open tabs (use tab storer to track of things you need)
  • Close all open programs
  • Turn it off everyday at least. Over lunch breaks etc... even better.

Process

  1. ONE TASK Write the one task you want to achieve on paper
  2. TIME IT Set a 25 minute timer (or shorter if it is a quick task like check the news for 5 mins)
  3. DO THE TASK Open laptop and use the appropriate program(s) to do the task
  4. OBEY THE TIMER Close the program and laptop on the timer
  5. TAKE A BREAK Take 5 minutes
  6. REFLECT If you were distracted or struggled with something plan out how to do it better
  7. REPEAT TILL FINISHED Keep going until the task is ended or you need to do something else
  8. FINISH AND CLOSE Close everything and go back to your offline agenda and work out what to do next.

Tips

During reflection period, if a task is going badly you might consider:

  • Taking a 25 min work period to organise your task better.
  • Keeping a distraction log to note when you get off track can help you learn where you mess up and the root causes you might need to address.

Obey the finish and CLOSE rule. Even if you know exactly what to do next, forcing the practice is a healthy habit to maintain and will prevent you from tripping yourself up.

Useful tools to help

  • Reduce Tabs
    • Toby tab storing - I've tried a few and this is my favourite
    • Pocket - Read blogs in your own time (or never)

Lessons

This mildly obsessive and stupid sounding practice could change your life.

It genuinely makes me more productive and gives me more hours in my day for things I really want to do. Building a healthy fear of my laptop and the power is has to control my day was a surprising lesson I needed to learn.

With great power comes great responsibility

  • A laptop is just a thing it is not responsible for me. Yet I give it so much power. Why let it dictate what I do?

With great responsibility comes great power

  • Taking full responsibility and constantly giving myself the chance to step back and refocus on intentional use puts the power back in my hands.

(Just treat yourself like you are dumb and life gets much easier)

Background

You may or may not relate to this...

We are all familiar with our phone obsessions and the fact they have become an extension of most human beings. We are quite incapable without them, yet with them we are distractible and unengaged with our actual surroundings.

Many of us suffer from issues with laptops. I think we know that phones can be distractions from our intentions and try to use them more intentionally. We remove social media and notifications in the hope of becoming more productive (I even removed email).

Laptop Distractions

Our laptop is the portal of 'productivity' it's where we work. More time on our laptop seems like a good things. I can start the day and open my laptop and be doing things continuously all day.

But that can easily just be emailing and getting distracted by LinkedIn and News and Slack and Youtube just as much as our phones. Our pages of tabs of things we haven't done yet are an ever present reminder of other things to do.

Work Anxiety

As well as the distractability on our laptops I've also noticed the anxious desire to be near it as well. Considering the amazing travel I've done in the last years or weekends away it has always been near me.

I'll often take it with me for an afternoon with a friend. Just in case they are 10 minutes late or they need to take a call for an hour or something blows up with the company.

The permanent optionality to be working makes me feel more comfortable.

The societal drive to constantly be hustling and the ever present need to be producing/creating is making me more anxious about any time off.

Summary

Using a laptop well is increasingly hard. I'm a passionate reader and learner, yet I genuinely struggle to read a whole blog these days. Short and to the point is about all I manage

(hence I lead with the meat of what 'intentional laptoping' is and my thoughts came after for those of you who can still read)

So this is two things:

  1. Lack of productive work and intentional use of laptop
  2. Lack of ability to switch off and embrace not working

I personally need more intentionality with my laptop habits (and I think a lot of others). I hope this helps you with:

  • Productivity and getting more free time back
  • Being more present in your free time

Shout out to:

  • Nir Eyal - 'Indistractable' and distraction logs
  • Cal Newport - Digital Minimalism