11 days of reading the news

The other day a friend made a comment about where she spends her time on the computer, according to RescueTime. It made me curious to explore my own results in a bit more depth, knowing that it was probably going to be pretty scary.

I decided to look just at 2013, as I have data covering the full year. And here’s some of the highlights:

  1. My biggest category was Software Development (whew). I spent almost 42 solid 8 hour work days on just software development.
  2. Next up was communication and scheduling, which consisted of pretty much three things – mail (34%), meetings (38%) and Skype (18%). I spent almost 12 work days on mail.
  3. Scarily, my third biggest block of time went to reading the news. I spent almost 11 full work days reading the news. This is really close to how much time I spent on mail.
  4. I’m embarrassed to admit that I spent over over 40 hours last year playing Full Deck Solitaire. This goes to show how playing a few minutes here and a few minutes there really adds up.
  5. When I’m on my computer I’m usually either Very Productive (56% of the time) or Very Distracted (34% of the time).

So what am I going to do with this information? Well, first off, I would like to drastically reduce the time I spend reading news. There’s actually some evidence that reading news can be bad for your health. But, I love knowing what’s going on in the world. So I think I want to try and limit myself to reading news on my computer to at most twice a day. I can read other times on my phone (such as when I’m on the bus). But this should help cut down.

Limiting email is always something worth striving for. Especially since it’s usually 20 seconds here, 40 seconds there. But, I also use my email to keep track of what I’m doing sometimes (looking at comments from an email when editing a paper or fixing my programs).

And while I spent over 40 work days programming, that actually doesn’t seem like all that much, given there are 250 working days in a year. I could probably remove about another 15 to represent known time off such as the extra days the university is closed around the holidays. Statutory holidays are already included in the 250. But this means I only spent about 17% of my work days programming.

Going forward, I’d like to up this, at least for the beginning of the year, as I have a lot of programming tasks on my the table. Hopefully I will progress to being done with implementing experiments before the end of the year, at which point this will decrease to much closer to 0.

Either way, I’m not entirely sure that 2014 will actually look much different than 2013. Although if I could just log less time on a computer, that would probably be the biggest win of all.

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