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10 Hours A Day Experiment

Posted by on Jan 14, 2011

Some of you know I write many of my blog posts in advance. This one is real time for a reason. I’ve been doing an experiment this week, one that either has changed my life or made me realize I need to figure out another way or one that reminds me why I’ve been doing things the way I’ve been doing them and I’m going back to it.

Following up on that work/life discussion from a couple of weeks ago, I made a decision that for this week I was going to limit myself to 10 hours a day on the computer, which obviously also means 10 hours a day online, or way less. See, other than brief moments away from the computer, I tend to spend upwards of 16 to 20 hours sitting here at my desk doing something; at least I thought I did. I acknowledge it’s not always productive, although I also do accomplish a lot of things. And some people have been shocked that I could spend that kind of time at the computer.

Most people don’t work that many hours on their job or in their work. Eight hours is the norm, sometimes a couple of hours here and there. Then they go home and have the evenings to do whatever they want, which might mean they sign onto the computer and do stuff. For me, there is no separation between my regular life and business life except when I go to the casino. After all, my business life is my computer, and by extension most of my social and fun life is on the computer as well. That’s kind of a shame, but many times I feel I need all that time. So, this was an experiment to see what I’d do with that time, and whether I really did need it or not.

I decided to start on a Sunday, which for me is either a day I rest a lot or a day where I work almost nonstop. This past Sunday I actually rested, and since it’s now the playoffs I had a rooting interest in a couple of games. So I napped and watched some football unencumbered by being at the computer. And I never made it to 10 hours of computer time; as a matter of fact, I didn’t even make 8 hours. The first day made me think that maybe this was going to be an experiment that was going to have a totally different outcome than I expected.

Monday came and, knowing I was on this timed program, I worked some, took it easy some, and basically had a pretty good day, which is rare for me on a Monday. I also had some business calls, which I didn’t count since I didn’t take them at the computer. Once again, I didn’t reach even 10 hours on the computer. I took a long nap, I watched some TV programs, and went to the gym for almost 90 minutes with my wife in the evening. But I did reach 9 hours; things were getting interesting.

Tuesday was an interesting one. I planned the day but I felt horrible all day physically. Seems I might have worked out too long Monday night. So I was sore and lethargic. But I had a full day of work planned on the computer, as well as a meeting in the afternoon which was going to take me away. I also took another nap before the meeting; I was starting to enjoy this experiment. However, Tuesday night at around 2AM I finally hit that 10 hours, when my alarm went off. I was feeling like I was in a great work rhythm, so I was irked, but I had my rules and thus I went to bed.

Wednesday was the day things started to change some. I woke early, like 7:15, which was disappointing because I didn’t turn the TV off until 3AM. I came straight to the computer for about 30 minutes, then went outside to shovel show; we’re in our “snowbelt” daily snow routine now, so while everyone else gets hit with storms coming up the coast, we’re getting 2 to 6 inches daily. Wednesday we got a little over six inches for the day officially. That meant I had to shovel in the morning and in the early evening. It also meant I didn’t go anywhere except a brief outing for lunch. I was on the computer for the rest of my time, including being on the computer during the Syracuse University basketball game (they won again; 17 straight wins). I looked at my time; at 9PM I only had 33 minutes left to go for my computer time. What the hey? What was I going to do for the rest of the evening?

I got off the computer at 9:30 with 3 minutes remaining. Now I was stuck. I usually don’t go to bed until between 2 and 3 in the morning; I had 4 to 5 hours to kill. I took a book into the other room, but ended up turning on the TV for awhile. Eventually I gravitated towards a DVD or two. And I stayed up until just past 2AM. So I wasted time instead of used the extra time for something else; then again, I had no idea what else I wanted to use it for, but my body, after shoveling twice, said “let’s do nothing”, and that’s what I did.

Thursday morning I was again up at 7:15 and this time decided to go to the health club for a short bit. I came back an hour later, got onto the computer, and went to work. I took time out to cook something for lunch, which took about 30 minutes, but I came back to the desk to eat at the computer and work some more. I was also very active on Twitter and the blog during the day; lost a lot of time doing that stuff. I had a networking meeting at 5:30, which means I pulled away to shower, get dressed, and head into the city. I barely stayed an hour; wasn’t feeling it and I didn’t know anyone. Came home, and got right on the computer again.

This time, the alarm went off right at 10:30; ugh! I knew it was coming, so I quickly tried to finish up a few things in that last half hour. I almost thought about getting off and saving some of that time for later on, but that didn’t seem to make much sense. I got off, and decided to watch a couple of DVDs before finally shutting everything down just past 12:15, since I had an early morning meeting anyway.

So the experiment is over, and it becomes evaluation time. And to me, what I learned is pretty simple.

One, if I decide I don’t want to deal with 16 hour days, I just won’t do it. That was proved by Sunday, though that type of thing will be rare.

Two, right now anyway, if I have more time all I want to do is, well, nothing. Watching TV and DVDs is classified as nothing to me. That and sleep; true, maybe I need more rest, but if it’s all I have to look forward to with my down time then I’d rather not. That is, unless I can get a lot of massages to help me rest; that might not be so depressing long term, eh? 😉

Three, it’s easy now to see how I can slip into being on the computer for so many hours. I mean, look at Wednesday; I could have easily been on the computer 5 more hours, because I remembered that on Wednesday I took myself out to lunch, which was about an hour away. Add to that a trip to the bank and the store, and there you go.

Four, I probably need more DVDs, because I watched DVDs that by now are probably starting to wonder if I like anything else. Hey, I only buy things I could watch over and over; nothing wrong with that.

And five; there’s absolutely nothing wrong if I decide to take time away to relax or do something else if I think about it. I got all my projects done by Thursday, and with a little concentration I could have finished them by Tuesday and had all the other time for other stuff. This might bode well as far as planning for future projects.

Of course it might all mean nothing in the long run as well; I’m not really sure. I’ll admit that it’s hard to evaluate myself on this one. I haven’t really decided if I’m going to try to change or even if I really need to. If I went on the “happiness” scale, I’d have to say that I ended the experiment no happier or sadder than when I went into it. I wasn’t happy with how Wednesday and Thursday night ended so early mentally, but physically my body was probably happier.

Another experiment is over; whew! And it’s Friday, which means all bets are off since I finished my paid work. Hmmm, what other trouble can I get into?

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26 Comments »

I would suggest getting some books to help fill those downtimes. Much better than watching DVDs all the time. Not saying not to watch a movies. Just not as much.

January 14th, 2011 | 12:53 PM

Also, why don’t you set up a routine for the gym and other things. I don’t know about you but a routine is easier to follow than waiting for an alarm to go off.

January 14th, 2011 | 12:54 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Actually, I do the gym first thing in the morning unless I have to shovel snow, so that was a component of all this stuff. I also went Monday night, which contributed to my not reaching the 10 hours.

January 14th, 2011 | 1:11 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

I had a book with me; I just found that my mind wasn’t ready to go there for whatever reason.

January 14th, 2011 | 1:12 PM
Jessica Sieghart:

I am sort of the opposite. Sometimes, I intend to write or do some work on someone’s website or whatever and I fall prey to the TV or a book. When I am in the work grove, though, I can do 12 hours on the computer without even thinking about it. When I focus like that, I lose track of time. I actually wrote today about dumping some of my time Easters so I can write more. One of the first things to go is Twitter. I never really liked it and I haven’t checked it in weeks now, so I figure it’s time to just dump it.

January 14th, 2011 | 3:43 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

It’s amazing how we’re both similar and different at the same time. Twitter has been a boon for me because I’ve met so many local people, and I needed that. And of course you understand the 12 hour thing as well; isn’t that amazing when you get into that zone?

January 14th, 2011 | 5:56 PM
Dr Natura:

I recommend using that time to exercise and workout. Spending 10 hours per day in the computer is bad for your back, your eyes, your mental health…

January 14th, 2011 | 9:19 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Henley, I did either workout or shovel snow every one of those days, so at least that part was covered.

January 15th, 2011 | 10:13 AM

Seems to me Mitch you should spend a little more time with that lovely wife of yours. What’s she doing while your at the computer so long?

Shit if that was me my wife would be nagging me to death. If you found a way around that I thinks it’s high time you shared your secret with the other blokes around here.

January 14th, 2011 | 9:33 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Sire, we’re two independent people. You know, no kids and such. She talks to her friends a lot and works on her own types of projects when we’re home, and of course she has a job she leaves the house for. She knew what she was getting into when we met. lol

January 15th, 2011 | 10:14 AM

You’re a lucky guy Mitch, my wife would show her displeasure if I spend too much time on the computer. Not so much now though as I’ve shown her I’m actually making some money so it’s more work than pleasure 😉

January 15th, 2011 | 8:24 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

That’s the thing here as well, Sire. My work is computer based, so she has no qualms about it whatsoever. As long as I will break away from time to time, she’s good with it. Of course, I can’t think of the last time I played a computer game…

January 15th, 2011 | 10:02 PM

Well, Mitch, sounds to me like you just proved you aren’t a robot.

My schedule is based on that “zone” you mentioned to Jessica. I was horrified that you would slap your muse – don’t you know that she favors you when she thinks you’re most receptive? 🙂

Getting back to zones. For whatever reasons, I tend to ebb and flow throughout the day. To use the cliche, I just go with the flow – I sleep when I feel lethargic, I play, chat or watch DVDs with my wife when I’m awake but uninspired…
…and I go like gangbusters when Calliope whispers in my ear.

I believe that you do your best work when you are refreshed, focused and fed. That’s kind of redundant, since hunger and pain/lack of energy are distractions.

Of course, you can do menial work at other times – or relax.

Cheers,

Mitch

January 15th, 2011 | 8:07 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Mitch, I’ve never really been good at that “relax” part, but my penchant for sleeping and napping might explain my wife a bit more, who immediately falls asleep any time she’s not actually doing something. She can’t even sit still to watch TV, and at any movie we go to, she’s going to fall asleep at least once.

January 15th, 2011 | 10:16 AM

I used to feel compelled to “power through” my work. After enough next-days comparisons, I realize that I need to relax.

Cheers,

Mitch

January 15th, 2011 | 6:51 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Mitch, I have to say that I have ups and downs when it comes to powering myself through these days. I’m not quite sure what it is, but my concentration isn’t always great. Good thing it’s pretty good when it comes to blogging. 😉

January 15th, 2011 | 10:01 PM
Patricia:

Hi Mitch

I can relate to spending many, many hours on the laptop. I enjoy it and also I am building up my blog and my fledgling business. Realise I won’t be keeping this up over time but prepared to put the time in now for success later 🙂

I know this blog is more for enjoyment Mitch but I’m sure you will work out a schedule that works for you.

Patricia Perth Australia

January 16th, 2011 | 4:45 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Hey Pat! Remember, I write more than just this blog. And this one is easy; I get to just write without restrictions; the others, well, a bit more formal. Still, I don’t mind putting in the hours when I see I’m getting something out of it. But I’m starting to at least recognize that I just might need more rest here and there.

January 16th, 2011 | 9:42 AM
Alex@Jocuri:

Hey Mitch,
I too am caught by the computer long hours (I am starting to wonder if I am going to grow some antenna or something to catch the wireless signal on my own), mainly because all the work I do involves computers, so I think for me is pretty futile to try and limit my work.

I think I tried it once and I actually saved something like 2 or 3 hours. It was cool to have some time to relax, but it was boring, mainly because I didn’t planned what to do with my free time.

Maybe this is what you should do, plan how much free time you may have left after your time on the computer and try to find out what you can do in that amount of time.

Best of luck with your experiments Mitch 🙂

January 16th, 2011 | 2:30 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Alex, it’s what we do as a living, and thus it’s hard to get away from. And yet, I think that if I look at it I’ve learned that I can take off an hour here and there, still get done wht needs to be done, and possibly still have hours left for other stuff.

January 16th, 2011 | 5:08 PM

Sounds to me, Mitch, like you ought to be looking for a hobby; something you would enjoy doing with that “life” time but could be picked up and put down as time allows.

I too understand that “in the zone” thing; I guess we all go there. We just can’t live there.

Please let us know how this shakes out.

January 16th, 2011 | 8:11 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Actually Allan, it’s kind of shaken out. My hobby used to be computers; they it became my life. The only other hobby I have, which I’ve written about, is poker, and it was be an expensive hobby. I’m at that age now where there’s just nothing else that I want to do. I mean, I don’t have that hidden “I’ve always wanted to do…” whatever that’s not related to the computer. For instance, I’d love to be able to just sit down and write more books and stories, but of course I’d do that at the computer as well. I guess for now it is what it is.

January 16th, 2011 | 11:01 PM

Wow, Mitch, like what others already said, it might be good if you will take a good walk or routine exercise during your idle or downtime. It helps to freshen the mind and body. =)

January 17th, 2011 | 1:13 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Hi Ron. I exercise during the day. Living where I do, it’s not a smart thing going out in the cold and dark for a late night walk. lol

January 17th, 2011 | 9:54 AM

I tried something completely wrong a couple of weeks ago and was doing blogging, marketing, content writing for my websites spending about 18 hours a day. After a week it was a disaster, I’ve lost about 5kg, actually made a good profit and start waking up a bit later. Actually after this experiment with my health, I decided to take a holiday, which I haven’t done for more than 5 years. Currently switched to 12 hours schedule and feel much better. Technically, I have cut the hours for writing and photographs editing and optimization, but keep the same time related to marketing and promo.

January 19th, 2011 | 9:44 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

I guess we all need to learn to relax just a little bit Carl, especially when we’re keeping up a frenetic schedule. At least you profited from it, so it wasn’t all bad. Did you go to that island you were talking about?

January 19th, 2011 | 10:32 PM