When was the last time you lived without your computer?

A couple of weeks ago, my MacBookPro started acting up. The audio was freezing intermittantly, which would cause the whole computer to lock up. As you can imagine, this was not helpful for running my online business.

But, just like everyone else, I had no choice but to bring it to my local Apple store to get repaired. They told me it could take up to a week, and sent me packing.

When I got home, I realized that this was one of the first times that I didn't have a computer set up in my house.

My first reaction was panic. How would I possibly get what I needed to get done? I was forced to adapt.

Does Your Laptop Pull You In?

I don't know about you, but my laptop sucks me in. I could be walking by, and I'll say “Oh, I'll just check to see if I have any email”… 

…and then an hour goes by before I wake up from the trance that the internet has put me in.

Do you ever sit down at the computer and get instantly distracted?

Do you sometimes forget what it was that you were trying to do online in the first place?

The Black Hole Effect

I call this the black-hole effect of the internet. You get sucked in so quickly that whatever it is you were trying to get done is easily forgotten. And for me, my laptop is my gateway to the internet.

No laptop, no easy internet access.

I found that without my laptop constantly available, it ceased to be such a big distraction. I cleaned my kitchen. Folded my laundry. I read a business book that I've been meaning to check out.

When I did need to do something online, I took my iPad out of my backpack, did what I needed to do, and put it away.

Work With Intention

Reflecting on my experience, I decided to try a shift in behavior when I got the computer back.

I would try keeping my laptop put away unless I needed it.  Here's what I did:

  1. I kept the power cable plugged in and routed to the top of my desk in a cable clip.
  2. I kept my laptop brief case next to my desk, unzipped.
  3. When I was done using my laptop, I put it into sleep mode.
  4. I put the laptop away after each use.

Though it only took 20 extra seconds to sit down at the computer, this small action forced me to become more mindful of what I was doing. There was no way that I could simply plop myself down in the desk chair and go into autopilot mode.

When I did actually open up the laptop to do something, I found that I was able to stay much more focused on the task at hand, because the entire experience was being framed by that task.

The experience gave me a greater perspective on what it means for me to be productive. I learned that if you are mindful about going to work, your work will stay in the forefront as the greater internet competes for your focus.

What's one technology thing that you can't live without? What do you think would happen if you had to give it up for a day? A week?

I encourage you to challenge your own assumptions and leave a comment below to share your observations.

One last thing: If you've been reading Cloud Coach over the last few months, you'll know that productivity has been on my mind a lot.

Something big is coming.

We're going to be doing something awesome in 2012 that will change what you thought you knew about productivity. Stay tuned.

Photo by NASA

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