Next to the fact that the last six months have been stuffed with work that was quite new for me, my absence from this blog, twitter and other (social)networks is caused by a little experiment I started at the beginning of 2011.
During the holidays I read some very interesting blog posts that discussed the stress of being online and the freedom that was regained after dropping the involvement in (social)networks. Not that I was stressed out but I did recognize the experience of getting distracted while being online by the popups and email telling me that someone wanted to talk to me or wanted to get back in contact or poked me. I was starting to get annoyed by the amount of disturbances during work hours but also while spending leisure time online.
There are simple ways of coping: switch off Outlook, Messenger, TweetDeck, … But as soon as I do that people will get annoyed, especially at work where, at time people expect you to answer your email immediately. Another reason not to switch off Outlook is that as soon as I switch it back on I get flooded with emails repeating requests (“you didn’t respond so I am resending this message”) and loads of getting-back-in-contact notifications of the social networks.
So I devised a strategy to:
- Lose the useless social networks.
- Drop most other social networks too.
- Lessen email clutter.
- Twitter is more or less useless to me. It can be fun and I like keeping in touch with colleagues that are working somewhere else but other than that it has little value to me. I decided to not log in for a while and see if I miss it (and perhaps it misses me). Messenger applications such as Live Messenger, Yammer and Office Connect and Skype I simply switched off and never looked back. I can use them to talk online after setting up a meeting but I do not allow them to disturb me any longer.
- Facebook, LinkedIn, Hyves are much more complicated to eliminate. First of all, they serve a purpose that I do not want to lose so I wanted to find a way of restricting them. I resolved to use LinkedIn for my professional network and Hyves and FaceBook for my personal networks. Keeping them separated is quite hard, friends that work in the same line of business and colleagues that find me on FaceBook, but I try.
- My email at work is just for work related messages and my private email for private stuff so I had to implement a rigorous filtering system so I do not get bothered with private things at work. I removed all filters/inbox rules and allowed my inbox to be flooded. When a message arrives that doesn’t belong at work and is a subscription I either remove the subscription or change the email address. If it belongs at work I either do what is needed as a response to the message and move the message to a Done folder or leave it in the inbox to act on it later. I do the same with my private email.
In addition I was following a lot of forums and RSS feeds. Again work and personal stuff got intertwined. So again I started by dropping out of a couple of forums and was pleasantly surprised when I noticed I wasn’t spending my times fighting flame wars and answering the same questions over and over again as happens on many forums. But I missed the keeping up to date so here is what I did. I started to be active on www.stackoverflow.com. This community is very professional, very good at self regulation of good manners and on-topic-ness with a true appreciation of knowledge. As for RSS feeds, I resolved to throw out all my old feed subscriptions and only add those that I encountered when looking for relevant information. I use Google Reader so it is easy for me to continue reading at home or while on the road. One of the things I decided to do was to stop reading blog comments on the feeds I read (except those on this blog of course) so I won’t spend time on ridiculous comments (I stopped reading comments on youtube as well)
So how about this blog? I will continue to write, don’t worry.