What’s true happiness? Of course, a stable and happy family is essential but for many of us, it’s also about seeking new opportunities, investing in ourselves, and contributing something useful and helpful to the world. All of these things fall under a large category of being “productive”. Even a happy family requires its members to be productive in order for things to run smoothly around the house.
What prevents us from being productive and being a vastly over-simplified definition of the word: “happy”? It’s activities where you don’t produce anything; things like watching TV or youtube, playing games, or browsing sites like failblog.org. It takes a lot less effort then actually producing the TV show, youtube video, or website but the ease of effort in passive consumption is what makes it so tempting.
Lately, one of my major time sinks were playing games. Games are addictive because of basic behavioral psychology of rewarding fake achievements. Hey, I know that. I took Psychology 101 in college. But why did I hardly play any games in college when I was first learning Japanese and began writing the Grammar Guide? It’s because I couldn’t afford it. I had no TV, console, and my laptop could play basically minesweeper and that’s it.
In fact, during college winter and summer breaks, I was dirt poor and bored out of my mind. Necessity really is the mother of invention: the necessity to save myself from going insane from boredom. It didn’t help that the rest of the academic year was spent in the middle of nowhere in Minnesota. Things were different for my good friend, who brought a new computer to college and a copy of the Sims. He would say, “Hold on, my character needs to go to work now,” to which I replied, “But the REAL YOU needs to go to class!”
Anyway, I’ve had a good run playing a whole bunch of games the past few months with my Intel Core 2 Dell and ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO. But now, the system is showing it’s age and doesn’t run GTA IV very well (which I just bought for a measly $20). I could probably afford to buy a new computer, or maybe even a TV and game console. But I’ve decided to just save my money and time by not enabling myself to waste it on games. Now, I really can’t waste my time playing games even if I wanted to.
I realized today that my major other distraction was the huge number of random RSS feeds that I picked up in my Google reader. Any time I go online to do something, it sits there, beckoning me to go dig for jewels of interesting content buried in a huge pile of junk. So I’ve cleaned up my list of everything except for 14 feeds including a few web comics like dilbert and xkcd which are quick to read, my wife’s blog, a couple of really cool or funny technical feeds like hacks.mozilla.org and thedailywtf.com, and cinemassacre.com (I can’t give up my Angry Video Game Nerd fix). Currently, my feed has 0 unread items.
I think proactively removing areas of distraction is really going to help me become more productive and accomplish the things I really want to get done such as the new Complete Guide to Japanese. What are your major distractions and what can you do to remove them? Oh, and don’t forget to add my feed to your RSS reader!!