Notes from a Floating Life Thoughts about productivity, digital living, and leading a simpler life

Always Connected? Why?

A man looking at his smartphone

We all know people who seem to live on their screens. People who spend an inordinate amount of time swiping and tapping, pointing and clicking, twiddling and twerning. At email. At social media. At instant messages. At whatever their screens throw at them.

No matter what time of day or night, one of their devices is always on. It’s always within easy reach. Those folks are always connected in one way or another.

I don’t see the point of being constantly connected. I don’t see it as a great way to live. In fact, I’d argue that being constantly connected isn’t living at all.

Being constantly connected is a distraction from your life.

But there are far too many people who can’t separate themselves from their phones or tablets or laptops. Why? It could be fear of missing out. It could be they’re enjoying that little hit of dopamine they get when they check something. It could be the idea that being constantly plugged into the online world is an essential part of living in the 21st century.

By being constantly connected, you’re trading depth for quick hits of what amounts to little or nothing. Alerts and notifications, constant check ins or tweeting or posting to Instagram break up the flow of what you’re doing. They break up the flow of your life.

Think about why you feel the need to be constantly connected. Then remember that constantly lifelogging doesn’t make an experience better or more memorable. Remember that constantly jumping whenever you get a notification doesn’t enrich or improve your life. Remember that constantly scanning social media, RSS feeds, news, and email doesn’t necessarily make you better informed or smarter.

The time and attention you spend on all of that could be better spent on other, more important matters. Matters that that have more substance, more depth, and more meaning to you and to your life.

You could better spend that time with your friends and family — focusing on them, on the conversations and interactions you’re having, on your shared joy, on the moment. You could better expend that effort learning something or reading in depth. You could use that time to relax and reflect.

You can survive, you can thrive by cutting your connection for even a few hours a day. You only need to give it a try.

Inbox Zero Isn't Worth the Effort

An overflowing inbox

Email is both a boon and a problem. It makes communicating easier, but at the same time many of us struggle with the sheer volume of email that we receive each day.

For many people struggling (or even succeeding) with productivity, inbox zero seems to be a common goal. It’s a holy grail. It’s one of the pinnacles of being productive. And not achieving inbox zero causes some people, including a few I know, a lot of stress and anxiety.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the concept, inbox zero refers to an empty inbox. It’s a sign of victory. It means that you’ve been able to process your emails (whatever that means), and you’ve shucked off the cognitive weight that comes with email overload.

People put a lot of time and effort into reaching inbox zero. There are countless blog posts, articles, and probably even ebooks on the subject. A lot of words and a lot of thinking have been plowed into that subject.

The problem is that inbox zero isn’t worth the effort.

Links Roundup - November 28, 2016

Take 30 Minutes Each Day to Learn

A woman studying

Learning is something I think that most of us don’t do enough of. One of the main excuses we come up with is that we don’t have enough time to learn something. Anything.

Far too many people see learning something as a series of marathons. They’re under the impression that unless they can devote one or two or three hours at a time to learning something, the effort isn’t worth it.

That’s the wrong attitude to have. You need to view the act of learning not as a set of marathons but instead as a series of short sprints. Short, daily sprints.

Just about anyone can set aside 30 minutes each day to learn something. Here are some tips that can help you get going.

Do All Aspects of Our Lives Need to Be Efficient?

A clock

Thanks to a few conversations I’ve been having with friends, I’ve been think about hacking quite a bit lately. Not hacking of the computer kind. Rather, I’ve been pondering life/productivity/work hacking.

More to the point, I’ve been thinking about the goal behind that kind of hacking. That goal? To help make people work more efficiently. To decrease the number of steps they need to carry out to perform a task. To shave seconds and minutes off a task.