step away from the computer

it bothers me that sometimes i sit in front of my computer, and i don’t have anything to do. yet i can’t unglue myself from the computer. i check my gmail account and my unc email. i check bloglines and boingboing and blogdex. i check my blog for new comments. i go to news.google.com. i check my referrer page, i check my extreme tracking stats. i check my tada list.

maybe something from above will trigger me to post a neatlink or forward someone a link or leave a comment or reply to an email.

but a lot of times i just sit there. and repeat the cycle. check my blog again for comments. reread my most recent post. i liken the experience to channel surfing. and feeling like a deer in headlights. the very psychosis i wanted to avoid by not owning a tv i’ve recreated with my laptop.

i presume the popularity of getting things done and 43things and tadalist suggests i’m not alone. but here’s the thing. i don’t care about getting things done. that’s not my problem. i just want to prevent my computer from turning me into a zombie. here are two things i’ve discovered so far.

lcd screens are too bright, especially at night. so i need to remember to turn down the brightness. i’m not sure what the connection is between the glowing liquid crystals and my ability to think, but turning it down immediately puts me at ease. it’s as if the brightness demands more of my cognitive attention, and leaves me powerless to play an active role in actually using the computer.

different postures are suited to different tasks. there’s something i really like about laying down with my laptop in front of me and a pillow under my chest, propping me up. i do this on couches, on the floor, in bed. it’s cozy, it’s like cuddling up with a book. i like laying down that way to read email or blogs, respond to personal emails, basically doing all of the things i listed at the top. but it tends to be a very bad position for getting things done. or having ideas or solving problems.

i guess because laying down is a passive position, whereas sitting upright, in an ergonomic chair at a desk is a much more active, alert position. if i’m sitting up, i can more easily access things around me, and i can more easily step away from the computer. when i’m laying down, i’m probably going to stay laying down, whether i’ve got something to do or not.

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