On The Wasting Of Time -or- Quit Wasting Time!

Internet Usage Self-Assessment

How many times do you load sites like Slashdot, Netscape, Digg,and others during the day? Do you find all of the linkscolored a:visited Do you wish they’d age-out quicker soyou’d have more sites to visit and discuss, and to forward topeers and friends?

How many blogs do you read How many RSS feeds do you subscribeto?

How much time do you spend browsing through Wikipediaentries?

How many futile online debates do you participate in(Microsoft versus Linux. Liberal versus Conservative. Pro-versus Anti-. Debates where nothing will ever beresolved, and no positions will ever be changed. No, seriously, nomatter how convincing you think you are, and how enlightened theforum is, it is extraordinarily unlikely thatyou’re ever going to change a single mind, much less theworld).

How many facile blog entries are you wasting your timeauthoring, tickling the reader’s ego by telling them that theysurely must be among the cream of the crop reading such anenlightened entry (which should offend readers who candetect the obvious pandering, yet it’s a tactic that is becomingcommon), desperately hoping that you’ll get atop some momentarymeme list, your 5-minutes of fame yielding nothing of real Earthlyconsequence?

How much time are you spending on all of theabove in an average day?

Take a moment and answer honestly. Feel free to answer in thecomments if you’d like, though this isn’t meant to be acompetition.

For many people the answer might be “very little or none at all”, but for quite a few I suspect the answer will lie somewherebetween “a hella’ lot” and “all day”.

Squandered Opportunity

What are you gaining from that sunk time Entertainment?Intellectual stimulation An enlightened perspective Work-relatedinformation (that’s was my personal justification back whenSlashdot was much more technology focused, and the discussionsactually did expose me to new information about the industry andtechnologies, though at the time the turnover of stories was so lowthat a single short visit a day was sufficient) Are you gatheringsome nebulous site-specific karma that’s more of a badge ofexcessive free time, or on some sites a perspective thatmost correlates with the group think, than wizardlyknowledge?

Most of the time the net benefit of a day spent on the memesites is nothing more than entertainment, but few would admit tothemselves that it was akin to watching an all-day episode ofSurvivor or Heroes.

What could you have achieved in that time?

Could you have spent that 3 hours building a Reddit clone(to waste someone else’s time) Launching your eTailoring venture?LearningJapanese Learning Python?Taking up a new language Implemented that awesome new piece offunctionality Gone to the gym and started the journey to fitness?Cooked an amazing, exotic meal?

Talking to and observing peers in the industry, I’ve noticedthat this time suckage has become a widespread,massive squandering of opportunities, with so manytalented developers, designers, and intellects basically wastingtheir days away. From a personal perspective, I know thatoccasionally I find myself “quickly” checking to see if there isanything on the feed sites beforedelving into a difficult problem, and some time later realizingthat I’d completely burned away all of the personal project timethat I had set aside.

It’s for this reason that I’d previously talked about router blocks and Firefoxrationing.

Honestly monitor where your time is going, and if you’re beingthe best you that you can be.

Aside: Many will wonder if the “facile blogentries” bit was self-referential. These blog entries onceserved a commercial purpose — yes, they were entirelyselfish, as most human efforts are — but as theassociated ventures turned out to not need the publicity,and I no longer was looking for cold consulting clients, thatovert selfish motivation evaporated. I’ve never really beenmotivated by appearing on the meme sites, as a quick look at the”peers” in the space tells me that it isn’t really a greataccomplishment to be on the front page alongside a “PICUTRE OFKITTEN [AMAZING!]”. Now I mostly do this as a brain exercise,keeping entries very short, infrequent, and quick to compose,saving my time for my attempts to Try To Take OverThe World!