Originally published January 29, 2017
This past week I challenged myself to be more productive during the work week by cutting my biggest time-wasting vice: mindless entertainment via Netflix. It’s not the first time, either. Years ago, when I was studying at the community college, I had successfully avoided movies and other after-work nonsense long enough to complete my coursework and get things done around the house and home office. After hopping jobs, I slinked back into the habit of catching a little Netflix while eating dinner, and before long I was watching Netflix as soon as I got in from work. This past week changed that again.
It’s only been one week since I’ve cut off Netflix cold turkey. Even so, there are noticeable effects. Here are a few:
- Productivity spike: Instead of plopping down to eat dinner at my desk after work, I’ve been eating in the dining room, a room designed and designated for that purpose. I brought no electronic devices to the table with me. Immediately after eating, I washed dishes and wiped down the kitchen and dining room table. Then I tackled other chores around the house, in the home office, or in the studio. At the end of this first week, I had crossed off several items that I had previously been putting off “until Saturday”, when I would make other excuses not to do them.
- Getting down to business: A task I neglect for weeks or even months at a time is updating my accounting software. In fact, there are times I don’t touch my books until tax season. Then I rush to get them up-to-date and audit-proof and tax-ready. Makes for a sloppy and careless way to manage my finances, right? This past week, I focused on getting my records in order without the pressure of having to do my taxes while also assisting clients with theirs. Gave me an opportunity to pay attention to what I was doing and making absolutely sure I was getting it right.
- Energy boost: Because I wasn’t lingering in front of a movie or TV show episode long after I had finished eating, I was finished dinner and chores at a fairly reasonable hour of the night. In fact, I went to bed two or three hours earlier than usual several times this past week. I awoke more refreshed because I wasn’t also putting something on “to lull myself to sleep”. Of course, my next challenge is to get out of bed as soon as I awake the next morning, instead of rolling over three, four, five times and then rushing around to get ready for work. Baby steps. Still, at work, I had more energy than I had experienced in weeks leading up to last week.
- Writing frenzy: More than once I’ve “resolved” to write more frequently for my blogs, last year committing myself to a blog a day for four days a week. By tweeting my topics earlier in the day and prompting readers to “read more on my blog tonight”, I forced myself to live up to that expectation by blogging when I tweeted that I would. Eliminating Netflix from my weekday routine opened up at least an hour for me to do that blogging. This past week is the first time I’ve accomplished that task, and next week is looking promising, as I’ve already selected which blog to post on each of four days.
- One downside: So energized was I by last Friday, following a week of unprecedented productivity at home, that my workday went bust. I showed up, worked on the few items on my list, scoured my agenda for other things to do, assisted coworkers with their tasks, and then wandered around waiting for the day to end. I was too far ahead of my work to be productive for the second half of my Friday – even after finding (and making up) things to do. That was the only downside. The increased productivity at home fueled my work energy, and that caused (allowed?) me to get ahead of key tasks on which I was working. I’m not yet sure that’s all bad, though. That may come in handy in the coming weeks, as more complex work projects loom large.
Conclusion: I recognized that the time I spent entertaining myself after work had gotten out of hand and was robbing me of getting things done at home. The most obvious place to reduce that waste was to cut out Netflix from my evening routine and reserve that privilege for the weekends, when I could truly say I had earned the rest and relaxation. (Turns out, I didn’t watch any Netflix all weekend either, again fueled by how much else I could get done in that time.) I will slowly re-introduce Netflix into my entertainment routine on weekends only. That may come in a few weeks, though. I’m much too hype about getting more done and being more present since cutting it out. I’m pleased to reclaim a part of my life I had been taking for granted.
What’s your life hack that keeps you grounded in reality while maximizing your potential as a person, artist or entrepreneur? Would love to hear all about it in comments below. Please share.