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A Daring Proposal: Have a Work Computer That You Only Use for Actual Work

Try to write an essay on your laptop, find yourself playing Minecraft. Try to send an important email from your phone, find yourself surfing Reddit. Try to do whatever productive thing people with iPads pretend their iPads enable them to do, find yourself playing Angry Birds. You’re not alone.

Author, blogger, and marketing expert Seth Godin throws yet another provocative idea at us in a recent post: The reason it’s so hard for people to get things done nowadays is because the devices they use for work and play are one and the same. (See also: The classic Onion report on how we spend 90% of our waking hours staring at glowing rectangles.) Godin’s solution? Make sure that you use your work computer for work and only for work, and get another device for messing around.

The two-device solution

Simple but bold: Only use your computer for work. Real work. The work of making something.

Have a second device, perhaps an iPad, and use it for games, web commenting, online shopping, networking… anything that doesn’t directly create valued output (no need to have an argument here about which is which, which is work and which is not… draw a line, any line, and separate the two of them. If you don’t like the results from that line, draw a new line).

Now, when you pick up the iPad, you can say to yourself, “break time.” And if you find yourself taking a lot of that break time, you’ve just learned something important.

This might sound a little dire, and one can imagine a less costly solution that accomplishes the same goal: Say, partitioning a laptop’s hard drive for two operating systems, and using Ubuntu for work and Windows for gaming. Still, if the very thought of giving up your procrastinating tools sends you into a cold sweat, Godin may be on to something.

(Seth Godin. Title pic via shutterstock)

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