I haven’t relaxed since I was in work/school 90 hours a week. When I don’t finish the things I want, I can’t relax.
I just spent a month in Europe on vacation and I felt like I didn’t get anything done. I didn’t open source my previous meme game. I didn’t finish my language learning app, or finish the Stanford machine learning course, or workout as much as I wanted, hang out with friends as much as I wanted, or even do nothing as much as I wanted.
Don’t get me wrong. I did a lot of things (met some amazing people in some amazing places and learned interesting things about culture and myself), but nothing that I had planned. My Lonely Planet app had a huge list of things to do. WWDC happened. Hacker News was conveniently on my iPad. I simply accomplished distraction after distraction.
In college, I took 5-6 classes a semester, worked full time, went out with friends, worked out every day, and had a girlfriend. Besides those, I also learned how to program and did freelance web work. I had far less time then than I do now, and I did far more. I am more ambitious now and I get less done. What gives?
I didn’t have an iPhone in college. I didn’t have a TV. I didn’t even have a laptop. If I wanted Internet, I was stuck in front of my CRT for hours.
Now I’ve got convenience…
When I’m in Spain, “Siri, find me a good tapas place with seafood paella (which is every where).” Or when I’m in an elevator, I can play Words With Friends. Or as I’m waking up in the morning, I browse Reddit. Or just as I’m falling asleep, the familiar vibration of the iPhone notifying me that I have a new email makes me stay up that much longer. On the toilet, I’m playing A Bard’s Tale. On the bus, I’m reading A Song of Ice and Fire. While I’m walking, I’ve got Spotify going, sporadically checking Facebook and Twitter while I wait for the light. If I’m visiting a new bar, I should check in to Foursquare. If I’m in Union Square, I might get a notification from Highlight that my friend Max is nearby. Please, Instagram and Pinterest and Tumblr, just leave me alone.
I’ve got an assigned task for every moment of the day, always something that needs my attention. What if I don’t want to deal with all those things all the time? I don’t even like Max all that much. Motherfucker beats me in ping pong.
In college, I got the things I wanted done because I had no conveniences. This much convenience can only give me distractions. Sometimes, I don’t want the world at my fingertips, let alone another email telling me about a release of a new iPhone app that records what food I eat. Email is my enemy. Distractions are the devil.
Convenience is an addiction, and just like any addiction, it’s hard to break. Do I need to checkin to Foursquare, or share my meal with fellow foodies on Foodspotting? No. Are these fond memories that I need to keep close to me forever? Probably not.
Humans need a moment to breathe, to let those fingers stop typing and put them to good use drinking a mimosa, plucking a guitar, shuffling cards, or folding behind their head as they lie in a grassy field staring up at the sky. Otherwise their brains are stuffed with mental to-do tasks, most of which don’t need to be done. A tweet isn’t an opportunity when your brain is already overloaded with other meaningless opportunities.
When I’m on my deathbed, I don’t want my Facebook timeline full of Farmville updates. I want it to be full of news articles written about my accomplishments throughout the years.
Put down the device and step away from the convenience. Put down the device and get more done.Sharing is caring -