Two weeks ago I wrote about some thoughts on vacation. I wrote that post from the beach with my iPhone.

The very next day, I decided to go into the water…with my iPhone…in my pocket.

Bye-bye iPhone.

It’s like ten thousands spoons…

Here’s the ironic part. That day I had started reading a book about productivity and…get this…eliminating distractions. I think I subconsciously took that section to heart and promptly drowned my iPhone a few minutes later.

What now? I have no internet in my pocket wherever I go! I can’t access my email every 3 minutes! I don’t have GPS! I can’t get on Facebook and Twitter!! I can’t run my business!!!!

Umm…false. It’s been two weeks. I still don’t have an iPhone, and I’m still alive.

In fact, I’m really enjoying this new-found freedom. I used to think of the iPhone as this awesome way to stay connected to everything and everyone at all times. At the same time I killed my iPhone, I started limiting my email usage by only checking it twice a day.

I discovered something.

Suddenly I have so much time in my day! When I’m not constantly engaging in these mindless and mildly entertaining activities (like email, Twitter, Facebook, etc.), I suddenly have these huge blocks of time, where I can be…gasp…productive!?!

This applies to both running HSC and being an audio engineer. I find that I’m getting more done, have more time to spend with my wife, and I feel less pressured/stressed.

What about you?

I’m not suggesting we all drown our smart phones. I ended up just getting whatever free phone AT&T would give me. It was what I needed. Removing these distractions helped clear my mind, and it helped me to focus on important things, rather than just being “busy.”

With regards to your music and your time in your studio, what distractions can you eliminate? What activities can you STOP doing so you can focus on the more important stuff?

Do you spend 30 minutes tinkering around with a cross-fade on a background vocal when you could be finishing up a mix?

Do you constantly use iChat or AIM in the middle of your sessions?

Does it take you as long to set up for a session as it does to actually record something?

Find one thing that is sucking up all your time and get rid of it (or limit it severely) for a week. See what happens.

Alright, comment time. Leave a comment and let me know what you’re going to eliminate. Then report back later and let us know how it went. Ready? Go!

  • Your a brave man. I don’t think I could last that long without my iPhone… After all the world would end 😉

  • Marc

    I might be a tad older then most as I remember a day with no PC’s, fax, email, internet (yes I have dated myself!). Seems that life has definitely become instantaneous. We no longer need to think. You have a question, pull out the phone and google it – Voila you have the answer. To make things worse, work, friends, family all require instant response time. I smartphone is a must. That said, I pick a time of the evening where I shut the phone down and charge it (actually on the other side of the house to avoid temptation). Once it is off, I play music, learn PT, read these blogs. Most distractions go away and I feel a sense of relaxation. I agree, there is a feeling that we will die should we loose our phones but in reality we will likely live longer without them.

    Enjoyed the article and thanks for your continuing to support my evening addiction to reading your site on the internet!!!

  • christopher [chrisw92]

    Its the internet for me… but it helped that the studio I “grew up” in didn’t have internet access, So when I walk into a studio I must subconsciously think that there is no internet access because I have never used the internet (even though I know that they can use the web). But in my house, in which my laptop is my “studio” the internet distracts me loads.

  • Yes, internet and games distract me a lot. But on the other hand I can’t be productive non stop. But without technology I am definitely much more relaxed and going sleep properly.

  • While I still have my iPhone, I turned off all push notifications and the autocheck email. I check my voicemail, facebook and email twice a day and I too have found that it has been very liberating and extremely productive. A good tool to monitor your application usage is https://www.rescuetime.com/ They provide a small tool that tracks how much time you spend on certain websites and on specific applications. It’s fascinating to see how much time you waste on some websites and applications at the end of the week.

  • I wish my corporate handlers weren’t such e-mail addicts, but that’s the IT gig. Productivity in larger IT depts suffers a lot from e-mail glut. Problem-solving skills, and time-to-resolution, all are affected by the nattering typing that IT folks have to do. “Status Updates” are the bane of my existence, and they can slow & sometimes halt all progress if you let them. To say nothing of those times when I’m drafting network concepts in Visio or something, and a departmental Outlook thread fire breaks out.
    I only even have a smartphone b/c of the job-requirement for it. Many IT groups (ab)use e-mail as a 24/7 real-time chat platform sometimes, but in my situation I’ve managed to carve out a rule to help with that. After 6pm they must phone me direct on any kind of urgent issue. After 6 ll e-mails not expected to be read/responded to, regardless of their urgency.
    The above has helped me glean some amount of work/life balance in the job, but I definitely failed to keep this vigilance in my home studio. Up until recently I had the iPhone distraction too. While I can’t dunk mine (yet) it doesn’t enter the studio with me at all anymore 😉 I also was guilty of having a Firefox tab or Tweetie open at all times. Now I have a strict “When my DAW is launched, the DAW is only dang app allowed to run. Period.” Everything else stops, I even un-load Dropbox and halt Time Machine (gotta do that for CPU & i/o saving anyway). I need to learn how to maybe script/automate the killing of other apps when PT runs.

    • Marc

      Enjoyed your insight and I try to follow similar Studio rules…

  • rick

    Meanwhile, I just got a smartphone last Friday. Love it. 🙂

    But yeah, I also have pared down my music rig considerably these days. Due to certain restraints/constraints I have, I needed to make a very simple, easy to use, and easy to set up and tear down rig for making music. The first iteration involved my laptop, interface, mic, and 25 key Novation controller. Still took a good 20-30 minutes total for set-up/tear down. So the next night, ditched the mic AND the interface. Since I play keys, almost every sound I need is in my laptop. So I went down to using my laptop and a Korg nanoKEY.

    But what about my voice? Glad you asked… I thought I’d give the internal laptop mic a try. And you know what? The results were pretty darn good!

    Now, this is just for scratch demos and writing. When I am ready to track I want my interface and my full weighted synth. But for its purpose (making/writing music), this has been working awesome for me and I have around 10 new songs started in the past couple of weeks (10 more than I had in the past couple of years).

    Now… back to perusing the Android market… 😉