This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Posts here are rare these days. For current stuff, follow me on Mastodon



August 2005

Peeking through the Blindfold

I am easily distractable. I like to procrastinate. I save things to the last minute to do them, sometimes later. My efficency in a task is directly related to the time pressure to get it done, and the number of people I am doing it with. Put me in a room full of people with a whiteboard figuring out a problem or discussing something or whatnot and I’m in great shape. Put me in my office alone to write a document that is due in a week (as opposed to in a couple of hours) and I am in trouble.

Even when I get started and into a groove, a few seconds of someone coming by and asking me something resets my internal clock. Before I start again I may walk around the office, get a coke, use the bathroom, walk around the office again, print out what I’m working on, walk to the printer to get it, walk back to my office, have to organize my desk, and well… umm… perhaps check a few websites. There is a list of them on the left of the front page of my site. Gotta check those. And there are a handful more I’ve started to look at which aren’t on that list yet. And then I do a little work, and then I have to check my email, both work and personla, and maybe answer one or two, and maybe listen to a podcast or two (in the background of course). And I’d mentioned that I want one of those Sling things so I can watch TV too… but mostly it is back to the websites to see if there is anything new.

Now, don’t get me wrong, when I gotta get something done, I get something done. It’s not like I’m spending whole days doing nothing. Uh, well not usually. But I have been getting very frustrating knowing how much MORE I could get done if I could just not be quite as distracted. I’ve been looking into other things too, but early last week I decided on Step #1….

I told all my web browsers to use a proxy to get to the internet except for certain sites. And I pointed them at a non-existant proxy. So except for the specific domain names I allowed, there would be no web surfing. I only put in a handful of domains directly relevant to work. No web surfing, no access to personal email, no blog posting… no nuttin.

There was an immediate drastic effect. The first few hours were painful, as by reflex I kept trying to look at things which were now blocked. But then it had the desired effect, I filled that time by actually doing stuff. Useful stuff. The amount of time per workday “wasted” dropped percipitously. I was getting some things done that I’d meant to for awhile but had never gotten to. And other things I was just getting done faster. This was awesome!

Then the cracks started coming… first, with all the proxies on, a couple of konfabulator widgets I have set up to show the local radar and stuff (lots of thunderstorms and shuch here in florida) didn’t work right, cause they used the proxy too. And I couldn’t get at the podcasts, and surely it was OK to listen to something with headphones while doing other things, right?

So, while leaving the Firefox settings the same, I changed the IE settings (which the other things were queing off of) to not use the proxy trick, but rather to use parental controls set for the most restrictive setting, and excpetions put in for the sites I needed. OK. Now I could have my widgets and my podcasts, but everything else was still blocked.

Uh, sorta. This went a couple more days. But then one day at lunch I felt temptation. In IE with parental controls, if you try to get to a site you aren’t supposed to, you are given the opportunity to override the parental control with a password. And it was lunchtime, so hey, I did… I refrained from using the “this site is OK forever” option, but rather the “just this time”. I had to put the password in every single time I clicked on anything else. It was a major pain. But I did it. And I kept doing it after the appropriate amount of time for lunch had finished. I tried to refrain, but now the temptation was there again.

Then the parental controls started interfering with some tests and demos of the product my company makes (even when I told the parental controls the URLs in question were OK), and to keep the stupid password thing from coming up all the time, I had to turn off the parental controls too. Firefox was still all locked down, but now IE was wide open again. I normally use Firefox except when I have to use IE, but…

That was yesterday that I turned off the IE protections. Today I once again feel like I have had the distraction jar wide open and calling me. I’ve resisted, I’ve done the time critical things I needed to do so far today, but… once again at the longer term things with softer deadlines the distractions have been killing me.

And here I am, I finished a late lunch a little bit ago (Wendy’s this time), but before I go back to “work” I am posting something on my blog. Tisk Tisk Tisk. Bad Sam. Go sit in the corner!

After I finish posting this, I am going to try again. Forget the weather widgets and podcasts. They are also just unneccessary distractions (although less so than actual websites). I’m going back to the fake proxy mode of blocking myself from surfing. All non-work related spots on the internet… blocked. And then I’ll start working on this information gathering project for work that I’ve been meaning to do for a little while but that isn’t explictly due any particular time, but would be very useful in a variety of things.

And I’ll once again restrict any pleasure surfing, or personal email looking or answering, or podcast listening, or blog posting, to those few hours a week at home when I get a chance to actually sit at the computer and do that sort of thing.

So, bye for the moment… the blindfold is going back on… NOW!

(We’ll see how long this lasts before I realize I can go back into the preferences and hit one check box and…)