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Shutting off the distraction

hi all-

For those of you burdened with teaching and classes, this is a very good day indeed. Not only is it beautifully sunny and unseasonably warm out today (ah, the smell of spring…), it’s also the Friday before the start of reading week.

Because I’m not taking any classes this term, nor do I have a T.A-ship, my response to the “what are you doing for reading week” question has been “every week is reading week.” The bad part about every week being reading week, is that I don’t really get to take the week off: instead, I’m just going to keep doing what I always do… (that said, I am off to Ottawa for the long weekend).

Before we push off on our respective adventures, I wanted to mention an interesting article that appeared in today’s edition of The Globe and Mail.

The article is called How to Fight Digital Distraction? Turn Your Friends Off, and I think it’s of particular relevance for those of us toiling away in academia. The article is about the challenge of getting your work done when your friends and families (along with a bazillion interesting links, sites and videos) are trying to lure you away from it. The article interviews a doctoral student at McGill about his use of a website called Anti-Social, which for $15 (it’s a one-time cost) will allow you to “turn off the social parts of the internet” for a time frame that you decide on.  A software called Freedom will restrict your access to the internet fully-and-completely (that includes email) for a period of up to eight hours. EIGHT HOURS!? How many of us have ever dared such a thing?

But c’mon friends, think about all the work we’d get done? It probably doesn’t seem like a lot, but all those hours we spend tooling around on Facebook, breezing through YouTube or compulsively checking our email really do add up. My way of managing it merely takes a stupid amount of self-discipline, which I am good at enforcing sometimes — other times, not so much.

I do resent the amount of time I spend at my computer, and I know that being inefficient (ie. spending too much time online) merely feeds that problem — but it takes a huge amount of willpower to shut off the machine. That’s why I’m intrigued to find that there is software you can pay to do it for you. Ah, technology.

Enjoy your weekends and reading weeks!

Posted in SGS Blog 2010-2011, Uncategorized

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