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I suspect many MakeUseOf readers have made their New Year’s resolutions 6 Cool Sites to Help You Keep New Year's Resolutions in 2009 6 Cool Sites to Help You Keep New Year's Resolutions in 2009 Read More to be “more productive” and to “do more in less time”. I, on the other hand, have made the exact opposite resolution. 2009 will be chaperoned by a “do as little as I can” mindset. Over the years, as technology and the Web 2.0 advanced, life got more sidetracked than I would have liked. My focus turned to gadgetry, making a habit out of being online and spending my money when I really didn’t have to.

Besides my “productiveless/pseudo-productivity” mission, I have also adopted a DIY attitude with the new year, in the hopes of spending less money. I’ll be concentrating my efforts into researching and learning more about DIY hacks for Mac and my other hobby, photography. Perhaps you’ll read more about it in the following months. I don’t know if my resolutions will last throughout the year but I’m surely trying.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here – on with today’s post.

One of the many reasons I adopted a Mac was productivity. I felt that I could simply perform better at any given task if I were using a Mac. That sort of got me in trouble and made me into a workhorse. Sure, innately the Mac and its operating system are better built towards achieving more because everything comes right out of the box. Exposé, Dashboard and Spotlight, just to name a few, are contributing factors.

Try not to multitask

Mutiltasking has gained too much popularity, in my honest opinion. It has reached a point where if you didn’t multitask, you are considered inept. Personally, I think multitasking is overrated in the sense that it doesn’t really reward us with quality results. Our brain is not made to maintain focus on several tasks at once. As we all may know, we only use a small percent of our brain at any time. Imagine if that brain power was divided by the number of tasks currently being performed.

If you want to produce quality work, focus is key. Quit your messenger/chat application, temporarily shut down your mail and turn off any other applications which may distract you and make you lose focus. I once wrote about Think in a post about productivity How to Instantly Increase Productivity on Your Mac [Part 1] How to Instantly Increase Productivity on Your Mac [Part 1] Read More (oh, the irony). It is a tool which shades your desktop to only allow the foremost application to be visible. Take a look at it if you haven’t already.

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Have a smaller GTD inbox

Things Things - 'Getting Things Done' simplified [Mac Only] Things - 'Getting Things Done' simplified [Mac Only] Read More , iGTD, OmniFocus, Midnight Inbox, Kinkless GTD. These are some of the leading and most popular GTD applications for Mac. There are others out there, of course. My point is: what’s the use of having a sophisticated GTD application if you can never fulfill the tasks in the inbox? Won’t it just stress you out that every time you open your GTD inbox, there’s a ton of stuff waiting to be completed?

Use a simpler, smaller GTD application like Organized and limit the work that gets on that list – then complete them according to priority. That way, you’ll always have less to deal with at any given moment. Learn to say “No” and just do less than what you need to. If you have fewer things to do, there will be more spare time on your hands.

More “me” time

I’ve noticed that so much of my time are going into studies or work or gadgetry that I haven’t have any time left for myself. Take time out to focus on your needs and learn to relax and just do nothing. Instead of surfing for more things to read about or new stuff to venture into, use the time to chill out and unwind. If you need help breaking free from Internet addiction, Freedom is a great application which will block your access by disabling the network adapters on your Mac for a specified period of time.

After the time is up, Freedom will re-enable your network adapters and you’re reconnected. The time interval you set in Freedom is not something that you can circumvent by turning it off. If you really need to use the Internet before the time’s up, you’ll have to restart your Mac. This is deliberately written into the application to prevent cheating which in essence, defeats the purpose of the application.

While you’re Internet-free, now is the time to complete your work, do the tasks you’ve set out to do, clean your living room, fix that garage door and clear your GTD inbox. If you’re done in time before Freedom restores your connection, take a bath, listen to some music or just sit down and enjoy a good book.

Limit the Internet, slow down your life

If you’re in too deep and can’t block out the Internet all at once, you can merely slow it down. Entonnoir is a free and simple application that can temporarily throttle your bandwidth. IM applications and mail only require a small portion of bandwidth to operate. By limiting it to 20KB/s, you can still use your chat and email apps but YouTube will take ages to load, hopefully deterring you.

You’ll notice that you can actually survive without being online or always knowing what your friends are up to on Twitter, although it won’t happen overnight. Learn to tune down and slow down. Things around you will be just a blur if life’s moving too quickly, so slow way down until you can see everything again.

Some of the advice on this article was adopted from another great productivity website, Zen Habits, where I’m currently getting my “work-less” inspiration from.

  1. MT
    January 6, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    Great post, Jackson. You may want to take a look at The Myth of Multitasking by Dave Crenshaw: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0470372257

    • Jackson
      January 20, 2009 at 6:47 am

      Thanks. Seems like an awesome book (on the surface). Unfortunately, I don't live in the US so shipping is pretty much about the price of the book (or more)

  2. dio525i
    January 5, 2009 at 2:22 am

    ....why even buy a computer?--go to the library and use the one there...at least you won't need to run a bunch of misc apps to fulfill your list here...and it will add another layer to your computer paranoia --you may actually have to leave your house at some point in the day

    • Jackson
      January 5, 2009 at 4:21 pm

      Let's not be extreme. Having a computer has its benefits. We all know students have a real need for computers for assignments, research and so on. The issue is how to avoid wasting time and energy producing results which are below par.

  3. Streaker
    January 4, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    I knew Mac people needed to keep things simple for themselves, but doing one thing at a time? That's just... sad. :(

  4. Matt Schoss
    January 4, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    Good post. Multi-tasking just doesn't work that well; it leaves a lot of uncompleted projects and produces inferior quality. This is the main reason why I still use Safari. Firefox is geared towards multi-tasking, and the add-ons make it cluttered and distracting.
    Time magazine devoted an issue to this: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1174696,00.html.
    Some multi-tasking is necessary on most jobs, but in general, the more one is able to focus on one task at a time, the better the quality will be and the more they will get done.

    • Jackson Chung
      January 4, 2009 at 1:43 pm

      Thanks. Yeah I never really got adapted to Firefox, don't know why. I prefer a simpler interface, I suppose.

      There will always be a certain amount of multi-tasking but not so much until the point where you lose track of what you've done and what else needs to be done. Prioritizing rather than multi-task, to my mind, is better.

  5. Guy Cross
    January 4, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    sleepywhisper.com/?p=183 These are my resolutions for 2009... personally I need to do more rather than do less

    • Jackson Chung
      January 4, 2009 at 1:44 pm

      All the best. Hope you fulfill your resolutions this time around :)

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