Time = Money: A product plug

We got nuthin’ for today’s money post.  We have a lot of half-finished posts but no energy.  Work and family life are getting in the way for both of us this semester.  This post is about a product to help you put work and family life first, if those are your priorities.

Anyhow, one side of the “spend less than you earn” equation is earning more.  In our field keeping your job depends on productivity, and in these lean times, getting a raise is often tied to how attractive you are to outside organizations.  If I want a raise, I need an outside offer (presumably one I’d be willing to take).  (#2 has no hope of a raise, outside offer or no: my school won’t match, and there hasn’t been money for merit raises in over a decade.  It’s a good thing I’m filling all my time with my partner, instead.  And, you know, getting tenure.)

Regularly updating a blog when one is supposed to be doing research/class prepping/writing etc. is not conducive to staying productive.  Maybe small amounts of internet surfing can increase productivity, especially in regular break-times, but in general, feeding a blog keeps work from getting done.  So does reading CNN or whatever your internet habit of choice is.

If you have an addictive personality, these habits can be hard to break.  You need a commitment device.

Enter:  Leechblock.  This is a Mozilla add-in.  I wanted something that would allow me to set the times for working and the times for playing.  I wanted to be able to say:  No spending 3 hours on the internet in the morning– I don’t *want* to get up at 5am, I want to not be allowed to play on the blog at that time.  I want to work between 9-12, play from 12-1, and work again except for a 15 minute break the rest of the afternoon.  Then free-time after work.

Leechblock allows that.  It also allows you to be cut off from a site after a set amount of time… no more than 15 min or 30 min etc.

I spent a lot of time the first few days getting the same blocked screen.  Then instead of spending 15 min to an hour pleasantly diverted from the task I was avoiding, I would spend about a minute and then I’d go back to doing something productive, maybe not the same thing, but something off my to-do list.  That makes me happier about my work-life, but also leads to a much shorter queue in the blog.  (We may have to stop daily updates one of these days, which I understand is part of the amateur blog cycle.)

Of course, nothing interesting ever happens on the internet when I’m not there (obviously the only interesting stuff is reactions to things I’ve said(!)), or other people have made the points I was going to make so there’s no point in repeating.  So my evenings have been less full of internet and more full of family as well (filling them with work, so far not happening).  And we’ve been going to bed earlier (though a lot of that is having to get up for classes earlier than in previous semesters).

Do you have problems wasting time when you’re supposed to be working or enjoying life?  What kinds of things do you do to keep on track?

[Disclaimer:  leechblock is a free program and they don’t know we exist.  We don’t do paid product placement.]

26 Responses to “Time = Money: A product plug”

  1. Renee — ramblecrunch Says:

    Leechblock sounds a lot like giving up sugar. I should do it but am reluctant to commit…

  2. Dr. O Says:

    My blogging has devolved to only posting when I have something immediate I want to write about, and if I have time to write about it. I’ve stopped writing a short blurb to complete later on if I don’t have time when a topic comes to mind. I’m sure this eliminates a lot of potential posts, but I just don’t have time these days. My traffic is somewhat lower because of it, but the folks seem to all come back when I put up something new! :)

  3. Molly Says:

    I sit in a very uncomfortable chair. I either get up shortly or have an aching back for the rest of the day!

      • Molly Says:

        No, – I either end up sitting way to long in the crappy chair (and end up with my back hurting) or I sit way too long in my chaise lounger (free on Craigslist, I might add) looking up occasionally at the crappy chair.
        What I really depend on is my kids screaming, ‘Get off the damn computer!’

  4. Cloud Says:

    One of my blog rules is that I don’t write posts at work. I have broken that rule once, maybe twice, and only for a very good reason. Writing blog posts is for home.

    I read blogs during my work breaks, but only in short bursts, and I only write a comment if I can do it in 5 minutes or less.

    And in an amusing turn of events, my husband just came and abused me for sitting here right now, instead of cleaning the sand off all the toys we just brought home from the beach (he’s cleaning the sand off the kids). So even at home, blog time is not always guilt free….

    I told him off (I’m a grown up and the fact that there is work to be done doesn’t mean that I have to be doing it right this instant- I get to manage my own time), but I suppose in the interest of marital harmony I could go clean toys.

  5. Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

    Have you considered writing shorter postes? You get the same enjoyment of bloggeing, but with a lot less work. Other than my recipes, I rarely spend more than two or three minutes per poste, and I still have a f*cken blaste!

  6. Sandy @ Journey To Our Home Says:

    I spend too much time looking at other blogs. I don’t do it at work, but even if I wanted to our company has blocked almost every internet site imaginable.

    At home this is a different story. Like right now, I’m supposed to be crunching some numbers Hubby and I discussed this weekend, and I’m catching up on your blog! ;)

  7. Anthea Says:

    I only post if I think that I have something to say and I want to spend the time writing it. Otherwise I won’t bother. I feel that I have to put some thought into a blog post and not just post random things.

    I can waste lots of time looking at other blogs usually about cooking since I’m always on the lookout for new ways of cooking things since I don’t want to get bored. But I can’t spend hours doing this since I feel guilty after a while since I know that I’ve not done anything constructive regarding work.

  8. First Gen American Says:

    I vacillate back and forth between wanting to be productive every second of the day, and then realizing I need a certain amount of down time to be healthy (hence the internet). The balance isn’t always ideal, but I’m very much the hare in the tortoise and hare model. I’ll tend to need a longer break if I’ve had a period of something very intense at work, either stress wise or brainpower wise. Something that involves conflict resolution usually leaves me feeling happy when it’s over but also drained. I had to reduce my posting frequency about 6 months into blogging. It was just too much to have this self inflicted feeling of accountability to a whole other population of people. I already had my time pulled in 20 directions and I had to remind myself it is only a hobby after all. It’s an enjoyable hobby, but not one that I want to burn out on completely and then quit cold turkey.

    Your capacity for productivity also changes as you get older and due to other outside influences such as health, etc. I don’t have an answer besides the fact that you have to be mindful of maintaining balance and making sure you don’t sway too far into the burnt out/bordering incompetent phase. I can see how some people who’ve been working 30 or more years are eventually just useless in the workforce while others remain productive for their entire careers.

    I look forward to seeing how you manage to find the balance moving forward.

  9. bogart Says:

    I don’t blog, so I just have to regulate my time on other blogs (etc.). It can still be a challenge to which I fail to rise, but I have had some success by doing things backward, i.e., instead of saying “I’ll only spend 3 minutes commenting on the grumpies” I say, “I only have to leave the grumpies to go read the next section of that chapter and then I can come back and comment. I find I do reasonably well if I require myself to depart and go do something brief (even repeatedly) whereas if I think, “Oh, I have 2 articles and a chapter to get through” (or an entire 5-year federal grant budget to draft) or whatever, well, I spend a lot of time blogging. Until just before the deadline, that is, I work well to deadlines. Some deadlines can be self-imposed, e.g., schedule meetings, calls, etc., and that can help, but of course there’s balancing out whether that’s really a good use of colleagues’ time or not — sometimes yes and sometimes no and obviously appropriate only if yes.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      “I only have to leave the grumpies to go read the next section of that chapter and then I can come back and comment”
      This sounds like a GREAT way to convince yourself to do something. Imma try it out!

  10. Debbie M Says:

    When I read “about a product to help you put work and family life first,” I thought Chore Wars.

    I definitely have problems wasting time. My best tool is stolen from a video game. When playing Backyard Monsters I would use a piece of used-on-one-side typing paper* folded into quarters to keep track of all the updates I had done and all the updates that were still possible, and during those periods when everything was updating, I could look at my list and plan my strategies.

    So now I do the same thing for my real life, (though it’s not as fun). I keep it in the book I’m reading during my bus commute to work. It’s really just to-do lists on paper. I have one list for stuff to do at home, and one list for stuff to do at work (not work stuff, but errands that are closer to work or that involve my employer like dealing with benefits). And I also have space to keep track of other stuff like prices on things I’m shopping around for.

    It’s especially great at lunchtime at work when I can’t think of a single thing I should be doing but there is actually something to do (besides eat lunch and go outside in the heat to thaw out).

    Every week or two I toss it and start a new one.

    *It occurs to me that “typing paper” is one of those phrases no one’s going to understand pretty soon and I should start calling it “copier paper.”

  11. Lindy Mint Says:

    I used to be really good at wasting time. Somewhere along the line I lost that abilit…wait, are we talking about wasting time at work, or wasting time at home? Two totally different answers. ;)

    In general, putting my iPhone up on a really high shelf usually does the trick.

  12. #1 tries to be more productive Day One: Internet Addiction « Grumpy rumblings of the untenured Says:

    […] I installed leech block and blocked this blog and cnn, hours from 9-12, 1-3, and 3:15-4:40. […]

  13. Pondering productivity, and trying to hack it « Grumpy rumblings of the untenured Says:

    […] of us installed leech block.  Sadly our IT situation is such that some days it works and some days it doesn’t.  […]

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