Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What, Really, Is Productive?

I tend to measure free time in terms of unencumbered hours. It's an elusive definition, but it seems to be a momentary lack of intersection between Must Do and Should Do. A theorectical gap that can only be perceived when you're standing inside it. I call that rift in time Nice To Do.

My Nice To Do list is always long and always in flux. It's that place where I can read my books, stare into space, think about software I'll never write, plan the home media network that proceeds in fits-and-starts, play a video game that may never get finished, complete that pond fountain idea - all the things that would make me a Renaissance Man were I, in fact, rich and idle.

Lately, I've noticed my precious Nice To Do time has been fairly unproductive - although that feels like the wrong measure. The point is, I don't seem to make progress on the Nice To Do stuff anymore. And it dawned on me that the clarion call of the Internet might be to blame.

Since you're reading this, you already know that the Internet is a potential time-sucking vampire. It asks us for nothing more than feeble mouse gestures and the will to remain sedentary. In return, it feeds our short attention span and slakes our thirst for entertainment and knowledge in all forms high and low.

Of course, the Internet is not evil. It's simply the analogue of life's rich pageant. But for those of us who are sometimes weak in resolve, it can tip the scales between inventing the Next Big Idea and a life of poor posture. And don't even get me started on the Pavlovian effects of an iPod Touch and a Wi-fi connection.

It's a battle that I fight almost every day, and one I intend to win every day. I think the key is to set goals, even when floating in the void that is Nice To Do. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm learning about laminar flow rigs.

But I really should check in on what LiLo has been up to lately.