My monthly self improvement challenge this month was to reduce low quality info consumption. More specifically, reduce the time I spend on Hacker News, Reddit, and other news sites. Why?
- Value: Although entertaining, the content is ultimately offers little value after being read.
- Time: Too much time spent passively reading, easy to “veg out”
- Opportunity Cost: There are many higher value things to read that I would personally feel more gratification reading.
How did I go about doing it?
- Installed RescueTime
December (reducing bad media)
Some interesting numbers:
- reddit, HN, medium, vanity fair, chow, sfgate, nytimes: Top distracting sites in October
- 10 hours -> 4 hours: 60% reduction in time spent on distracting websites from October to November
- 63 hours -> 64 hours: negligible change in time spent doing software development
- So over the course of the month, I added 6 more hours to my life by just reducing the time I vegetate!
The hardest thing was to stop the habit of opening a new reddit or hacker news tab during any downtime. It was practically muscle memory! I found myself opening and immediately closing tabs many times a day for the first week. However, the knowledge that my performance was being monitored by RescueTime helped keep me going.
One thing I anticipated was that I would be less up-to-date both in local and technical news. However, I was surprised to find the funniest or most important content being shared in the company chatroom anyway, filtered and curated by my friends. This didn’t end up being as large of a problem as I originally anticipated.
In the end, I felt more focused and able to direct my energy toward more difficult media consumption goals. I got halfway through a book that I would not have picked up if I didn’t do this challenge. I believe that it’s worth continuing this challenge into the future and hopefully I’ll have the discipline to do so.
- Write down a list of alternate content to consume in advance.
- Download books that you’ve been meaning to read and on your phone so you’re not languishing in the
- Track yourself using RescueTime both as a motivation tool and to measure your performance change.