Follow the Decluttering:
You blink and over 4 months goes by. I can't believe I haven't posted anything since last September. In that time, I've started a new, much busier job, taken on the titles of Cub Scout Den Leader and Church Youth Group Leader, and the baby just turned a year old. I've been busy.
I thought I was already busy since the baby came along, but the new job has been insane. I didn't like sitting at a desk waiting for the workday to end, but now my day flies by and I'm rarely at my desk. The problem is when it's time to go home, I suddenly feel like there is a lot left to do. I end up staying a few minutes longer.
A few minutes extra quickly turns into an hour until I decide to just pack up my laptop and go home. I pick up the baby at daycare, go home and cook a quick dinner for everyone before we need to head out to whatever activities the kids have that evening. Later, I often end up pulling out my laptop for a few minutes to prepare for the next day.
This has turned into a bad habit that I'm trying to break. I know that my family has been affected by my new schedule and it's not fair. I started reminding myself that the company has been running for a long time without me and it will continue do so when I'm gone. Whatever is not done will still be there tomorrow.
As it also turns out, only in the last couple of years have I learned to appreciate certain music. Some of my friends would call it blasphemy, but I just couldn't listen to Pink Floyd. At some point, one of their songs caught me in just the right mood and I really listened. I don't know why but suddenly I realized how good some of their lyrics are. Now one of my favorite songs is Time. (lyrics from https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/pinkfloyd/time.html)
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
I am constantly reminding myself that when I'm older I will never wish I had spent more time at work. I will wish that I had spent more time at home with my family before my kids are grown and become busy with their own lives. I'm declaring a late New Year's resolution to slow down and spend more time with my family before it's too late.
Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time
Do you ever wonder where the time goes when you start looking at your phone? You have a few minutes to sit down and relax so you grab your phone and open up your favorite social media app. The next thing you know an hour has gone by, that laundry still hasn’t folded itself, and the dishes are still on the counter. Do you know what you’re really spending your time on when you look at your phone?
Thanks to an app called Rescue Time, I have recently learned what I’m doing and it was enlightening. I first installed it a few months ago and kept checking the app to see my stats. It was a bit confusing at first and I almost gave up and uninstalled it. The app shows color coded usage for either today, the last 7 days, or the last 30 days. Sometimes I would just get the message “waiting for data from your motorola XT1585”. The color coded pie chart and color coded list of apps looked cool but I had no idea what the colors meant.
The numbers were scary though. My most used app by far is Waze because of my long commute. Aside from 17 hours of trying to avoid traffic jams, looking at the last 30 days told me that I spent 10 hours on Facebook, and 3 hours texting. This wasn’t that helpful other than to point out to me how much time I wasted on Facebook. I already knew it was too much.
The real magic happens when you log into the Rescue Time website. Suddenly you see details and find out what all those colors mean. The basics of it are that there are Categories and Sub-Categories which Rescue Time actually does a pretty good job of figuring out on its own.
You can completely customize this by putting apps in whatever Category you choose or adding your own. Then, every app (i.e. Activity) gets assigned a Productivity Score of Very Distracting, Distracting, Neutral, Productive, or Very Productive. This was a little bit of a time investment but once I spent time adjusting all these, the reports and dashboards are more useful.
Here are just a couple of screenshots. The first is my monthly dashboard from July where you can see 17% of the time I was on my phone it was on Social Networking. Don’t be too impressed by the large Reference & Learning bar because I categorized Waze under Reference. You can tell Rescue Time to completely ignore an app so I might do that with Waze.
You can see in the next image one of the nice features of Rescue Time. You can drill down in more and more detail. Here is July’s usage by day. You can go further in detail by picking a day to see exactly what time and how long each app was open.
There are many more reports and dashboards available as well as a weekly email report you can sign up for. This is all just the free version too. A Premium plan is available for $72 per year but keep an eye out for deals if you’re interested.
You can also install Rescue Time on your Apple, Windows, or Linux computer to track your activities and websites. I haven’t tried this feature out yet but I’m sure the results would be a little depressing. As much as I try, I know I’m not the most productive person when I get a screen in front of me.
If you keep finding yourself wondering at the end of the day where in the world your time went, then you need to try out Rescue Time or something like it. Just remember, the data from Rescue Time is only as good as your willingness to to take back your wasted time. Challenge yourself or others by competing for the highest productivity score or at least set some goals for yourself. Pretty graphs aside, you will still need to find your own motivation to remove yourself from the digital world and see what else you're missing out on.
I hate to admit this but here it is. I was (am) a compulsive Facebook window shopper. I think I spent more time looking at stuff I could buy on Facebook than scrolling through my friends’ posts. It’s been such a good medium for selling and giving away our unwanted things that I realized some bargains could be found nearby.
Like all shopping, I try to stick to things I actually need but it’s not easy. Facebook, like any online marketing giant has algorithms to keep showing you things you might be interested in. Let’s face it companies like Google and Facebook are just marketing wolves in sheep’s clothing. For example, I recently decided that I really wanted, no needed, my own desk at home. As soon as you search for “desk” in the Facebook marketplace or even view a couple of postings, it will suddenly seem like that’s the only thing anyone is selling. Then, the algorithm says “hey, people who have searched for desks have also looked at these things” so it starts showing you some other stuff mixed in with the desks.
Facebook Marketplace: come for the cheap desks; stay for the dining room sets and pool tables.
I browse Facebook Marketplace the way people used to browse through shopping malls. I went in thinking I could use a small desk but then think maybe we should replace our kitchen table too. It’s easy to get out of control and start thinking you NEED all kinds of things.
I had to get a grip and here’s how I did it. One, I tried to visualize where another desk would go and the effort it would require to make it happen. Two, I looked around the house to see if there was a way to use something I already have.
It turns out that we actually have 6 desks in our house. That’s one for everyone including the baby. The problem is that most of them are not being used because either their tops are covered or they are just in a bad spot. Once I realized that, I decided we just need to clean and rearrange the ones not being used.
I’ve mostly stopped looking but since I still haven’t cleaned off any of the desks and rearranged I still catch myself looking through the marketplace occasionally. Every time I do I just ask myself again where it will go and remind myself that we have enough stuff.
So the next time you see a bargain or think you really need a new something-or-other, first take a look around at what you already have. You just may realize you can easily make do with what you have.
My family uses Cozi for our calendar, shopping, and to-do lists. The best part is that it's free.
Copyright Dave Lubke and www.davelubke.com, 2018
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