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    Just had an insight.

    I've noticed that I tend to get trapped in "status loops," where I'm constantly re-checking various inboxes to see if anything new has come in. For example, I'll check Fark to see if there are any new items, then Google News, then some of my favorite blogs (Lileks' Bleat, p1k3, etc.), and once I've done that, I wonder what else I'm missing. I might go back to Fark, or go through my bookmarks for sites I haven't visited in awhile, instead of closing the web browser and going on to other things that need doing.

    When this occurs, I have a vague, throbbing sense that I should be completely up-to-date with whatever project I'm on at the moment. I don't even think about other things that need to be done.

    Does anyone else have this habit? If so, what do you do to conquer it?

  • #2
    Me too

    Yes. I check my e-mail. Then www.davidco.com. Then another BB I like. Then a blog. Then my e-mail, again. Then it's back to davidco.

    The cure: I stop and listen, and hear the wolf howling, far in the distance. Pretty soon the wolf will be at the door. I hear him now.....gotta go.....

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    • #3
      I am a compulsive site-checker too. I have half a dozen or so that I go through in my "patrol" about every hour. I'm in front of the PC and craving change so I guess that's what drives it. I am thinking about breaking this habit and also going on a "news fast" for a while.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Brent
        I've noticed that I tend to get trapped in "status loops," where I'm constantly re-checking various inboxes to see if anything new has come in. For example, I'll check Fark to see if there are any new items, then Google News, then some of my favorite blogs (Lileks' Bleat, p1k3, etc. . .

        Does anyone else have this habit? If so, what do you do to conquer it?
        I'm not sure I understand. This sounds like procrastinating (?). Why do you consider blogs and news 'inboxes'?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by andersons
          I'm not sure I understand. This sounds like procrastinating (?). Why do you consider blogs and news 'inboxes'?
          You are too funny!

          I would agree. It sounds like you're worrying about the wrong inboxes. That could be caused by a number of things. Fatigue. This post did appear on a Friday. Maybe it's time for the weekend. Or perhaps your next actions aren't specific enough to get you moving (maybe they're specific enough for a Wednesday but not for a Friday...KWIM?).

          Comment


          • #6
            I do have that habit, and it's definitely procrastination.

            Consider setting aside a certain time when you're allowed to check them. (This is also known as Unscheduling.) For example, I try to confine my patrolling to lunchtime. The danger of this is sometimes I end up taking long lunches! At least it scratches to itch to see what's new out there.

            HTH

            PS. This forum is especially dangerous. I have to confess I was in serious work advoidance mode last night.

            Comment


            • #7
              I used to do that as well, until I discovered the wonder of RSS

              Now I just subscribe to the RSS feeds and read the material when I get the chance. Of course Iím often a day (or even a week) behind, but at least I donít feel like Iím Ďmissingí anything.

              For those who don't know, here's a quick tutoral on RSS
              http://channels.lockergnome.com/rss/...ickstart.phtml

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by andersons
                Why do you consider blogs and news 'inboxes'?
                A blog is a source of input, a place where data sits waiting for me to review it for appropriate action (e.g., perform further research about a topic raised, print and file for future reference, etc.). How is that not an inbox?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by remyc88
                  I used to do that as well, until I discovered the wonder of RSS
                  These blogs do not have RSS feeds.

                  Also, people seem to be fixating on the digital aspect of this. Perhaps I was unclear; I can do the same thing with ANY aspect of my life. I also do this while gardening, for example.

                  I'd appreciate insight on the underlying behavior. It's not quite procrastination, because I am doing stuff; I'm just doing stuff relating solely to the project at hand. I'm trying to be completely "caught up" on the current project, with no concern about other projects.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Brent
                    I'd appreciate insight on the underlying behavior. It's not quite procrastination, because I am doing stuff; I'm just doing stuff relating solely to the project at hand. I'm trying to be completely "caught up" on the current project, with no concern about other projects.
                    Brent,

                    I'm the same way. Perhaps we don't trust our system enough to stop fixating on the project that has our focus; or perhaps we haven't done a complete mind sweep to dump the stuff that has our attention into our system?

                    Just some thoughts...

                    Matthew

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                    • #11
                      Oh, I know what you're talking about. I have many times found myself compulsive about checking certain things, whether it be online forums or blogs or my garden.

                      I often blame it on procrastination, that I don't want to do the things I really need to be doing. But like with this forum, I'm currently obsessed with being more productive, and this forum (and other blogs I'm currently checking a lot) has truly helped me learn a lot about that. It's like productivity is my current "project" and at some point I will make progress to the point where progress is starting to slow and then I will move onto something else.

                      This happens to be one of my favorite things about GTD - I have a list of everything I want to do and so I can become absorbed in something if I want to because I'm aware of what I'm not doing. I keep my next action lists, and I have days when I knock out a lot of little items and other days where the whole day (or a significant portion of it) is absorbed with one project. Before GTD, I couldn't totally immerse myself in something I wanted to because I was afraid other things would slide. Now I can - and totally enjoy it - because I know what I'm doing and what I'm not doing.

                      I seem to swing back and forth from modes where I take in a lot of input - reading books, forums, blogs - to where I am very productive and don't want any external input. It's kind of like a planting and harvest things. I just ride out the planting times (when I'm obsessed with inboxes and absorbing all the information that I can) knowing that in good time, I will have a very productive period where almost everything on my lists will be completed and I'll worry about running out of things to do (even though that's never happened).

                      So I really don't know what to tell you except to follow your intuition and learn what you can, knowing that at some point you will be putting it to good use and accomplishing things you would never be able to accomplish with what you know now.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I'm not sure I fully grasp the underlying issue being raised here but I have a feeling the too-many-inboxes thing is likely to be relevant.

                        It's true that an inbox is "a source of input waiting to be reviewed", but clearly if every source of input waiting to be reviewed was an inbox by definition, this might theoretically include every blog, website, newspaper, tv channel, or indeed person in the world. So we are all, automatically, making some kind of judgment to include some data sources as inboxes, and not others.

                        So it might potentially help, I guess, to mentally shift as many of these input sources as possible over to the side of "non-inbox" sources of data, to be reviewed on an ad-hoc basis -- ie., so that having reviewed them is not a precondition of your system being up to date. Then when you do look at those sources, and find something you want to act on, move it to one of your actual inboxes.

                        I appreciate that's probably only a slight help at best, and maybe none at all. But this does bring up an interesting philosophical issue in GTD, which is that there is a decision prior to any decisions listed on the famous workflow diagram -- whether to make something an inbox, and then whether to put something in one of those inboxes...

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Brent
                          A blog is a source of input, a place where data sits waiting for me to review it for appropriate action (e.g., perform further research about a topic raised, print and file for future reference, etc.). How is that not an inbox?
                          As David would say, an inbox is a "transom," as David would say, between the outside world and your "space." This could be psychic space, for sure. But a blog, a magazine, a news program: these are sources of information -- other people's expressions, sent out into the world for others to "tap into."

                          Not to belabor the semantics of it, but perhaps if you think of these blogs, etc. as "Read & Review," then you that might shift your urgency. I understand that blogs, etc. are updated at a more frequent pace than monthly magazines, or even daily news programs, but isn't it about what's helping YOU do what YOU want to do? It sounds like calling these things "in boxes" is a way to justify your desire to keep up with them. (And please know that I'm not judging your desire to do that.) But the blog is not "waiting for you to review it for appropriate action"!

                          For me, the bottom line is: is it working for you to check your e-mail (and whatever else you check) every five minutes? If not, own that, and decide to change your behavior...

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                          • #14
                            It's just another open loop...

                            OK - let's take an example - you visit the DA Forum 4 times per day to read the latest post.
                            Why? What is the Successful Outcome? Presumably it is to "Learn the latest GTD hack to make me more productive".
                            What is the Next Action? "Browse DA Forum for latest hack".
                            Context? "@computer - online"

                            OK then. Next time you're in that context have a look at your NA list and go for it!

                            If you "have" to do this everyday then put is on your calendar.

                            I ask just one thing - listen to your intuition. When compared to all the other NAs on your list is this really the best thing you can focus on right now???

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Brent
                              I've noticed that I tend to get trapped in "status loops," where I'm constantly re-checking various inboxes to see if anything new has come in. For example, I'll check Fark to see if there are any new items, then Google News, then some of my favorite blogs (Lileks' Bleat, p1k3, etc.), and once I've done that, I wonder what else I'm missing. I might go back to Fark, or go through my bookmarks for sites I haven't visited in awhile, instead of closing the web browser and going on to other things that need doing.
                              I hate to say it, Brent, but you're procrastinating.

                              I know this because I have the same tendency. I'm an industry analyst, so I can reasonably argue that any magazine, web site, or blog related to my industry is "job-related" information that I need to read and absorb. And it is. But reading the Wall Street Journal is rarely more important than attacking specific tasks related to specific projects. So if I'm reading the Journal when I should be reading a paper on flexible photovoltaics in IEEE Transactions, I'm procrastinating. (Yes, the Journal is usually more interesting. That's why this trap is so seductive.)

                              The best solution I've found is to set aside a chunk of time when it's okay to do general information gathering of this kind, to use RSS feeds and similar tools to make that time as efficient as possible, and to have clear NA lists so that I can easily see what I should be doing the rest of the time. Otherwise, five minutes of browsing turns into two hours, and the day is completely shot.

                              Katherine

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