I have a long history of customizing my devices.
I was the first and still one of the few people at my work to have a personalized wallpaper. I have over a thousand wallpapers that I change daily. I used to play movie trailers as my screen-savers but they don’t let us do that any more.
I’m nowhere near as gungho as these developers who create entirely personalized desktops but I like to tweak and make little changes just to identify things as my own. Same with my phone; custom screens, ring-tones, launchers and apps to change the overall appearance. I like to personalise and distance myself from the crowd. I’m just like that.
Recently I rooted my phone. I’ve got a Samsung Galaxy SIII and I was a bit sick of all the extra crapware installed on it. It was running a bit slow and crappy so I figured a root was the way to go. After all, a good root fixes everything, right? So, I spent a good couple of hours rooting* it and playing around with that, seeing what I could do, what grand new playgrounds this opened up for me. I went into Play, I searched around google. I farted around for hours playing with this, searching apps, looking for guides, trying to find ways to utilise the allegedly awesome potential of my rooted phone. Then something occurred to me.
I was wasting hours of my valuable time, in all honesty, doing absolutely nothing.
I was sitting at my laptop last night, ostensibly working on my blogs, and got distracted. I had my phone sitting beside me and I started flicking over to some pages I’d bookmarked on how to flash custom ROMs. Before I knew it I was mucking around with my phone trying to install a custom ROM and almost bricking it in the process. That’s not important though. What is important that I realised I was spending more time playing around with my phone than I was actually working on it.
Your Medium is Not the Message.
With the abundance of technology and information surrounding us these days it’s all too easy for us writers to get distracted and lose our flow and end up spiraling down the rabbit hole of the internet or twiddling around with our devices. We need to be aware, now more than ever, that our phone, laptop – whatever your chosen method of crafting words is – is just a tool to be used. I often find myself procrastinating by constantly rearranging notes in evernote. At the end of the day it’s a time-suck, pure and simple. I am now in the process of moving half my notes into simple word documents for simplicity’s sake (but that’s a whole other post). No matter how productive you think you’re being, all you’re doing is pushing pixels around on a screen. The only true productiveness is putting down words, one after the other.
Now more than ever technology is conspiring to keep us from writing. Think about it, would you ever have spent 3 hours pulling apart your pen and moving paper around on your desk? Did any writer in history ever while away their writing time pulling their typewriters apart or decorating them? No, of course not, that’d be ridiculous. Yet, every day, we writers are spending countless hours doing the modern equivalent of this. Surfing the net, surfing facebook, playing on our phones, rearranging our notes. Anything we can to avoid doing actual writing.
We’re writers. And we need to be better than that.
So turn off the wifi on your phone. Shut down your browsers. Hell, pull out a pen and piece of paper if you can’t resist the siren song of technology. But whatever you do, put aside 15-30 minutes and write. Just write. It doesn’t have to be anything. It can be complete gibberish, it can be about how much you miss your technology, just write.
What creative way have you found to procrastinate? Let me know in the comments.