// Internet Duct Tape

What Have You Done For You Lately?

Posted in Digital Culture, Lifehacks, Technology by engtech on April 24, 2008

Lifehacks and Productivity

For Earth Day this year I decided I was going to try to make a real change by commuting to work under my own power instead of using my car. I’ve been riding a wave of endorphin high as my body goes through the shock of experiencing exercise again for the first time in a long while. I can feel the winter doldrums lifting [1], and I asked myself: when was the last time I did something that makes a positive change in my life?

Life is full of actions you can categorize as important or urgent. Important activities hold long term improvement while urgent activities scream DO IT NOW but only exist in the moment. A year from now you’ll have a hard time remembering the urgent activities even happened, whereas you might only just be starting to see the benefit from the important activities.

Quoting Stephen R. Covey from 7 Habits:

Activities that time should be spent on:

  • prevention
  • increasing production capacity
  • relationship building
  • recognizing new opportunities
  • planning
  • recreation

These are things that are not urgent, but important. Things like building relationships, writing a personal mission statement, long-range planning, exercising, preventive maintenance, preparation – all those things we know we need to do, but somehow seldom get around to doing, because they aren’t urgent.

As an internet addict, you can really see this in action with the web sites you visit. Portals like Twitter, Facebook and Friend Feed [2] all demand your attention RIGHT NOW and all the time. They can be tools for relationship building, but much like how the instant nature of the communication reduces the content of the message, the instant nature of the relationship reduces the strength of the relationship.

In a recent post Giles put page views in perspective:

It’s awesome to get a free burrito every 11,429 times somebody decides to read your blog. But that awesomeness doesn’t translate well to full-time careers, because it’s all too easy to get 11,429 people to visit your blog even though every single one of them realizes they should know better. There are a lot of people reading blogs when they should be chasing their dreams, and there are a lot of bloggers more than happy to waste your whole day. [3]

I’ve been running Internet Duct Tape for two years now, and this week the blog counter hit 3 million pages served (or 262 burritos). This week I also did something that has a noticeable impact on my life instead of following my routines on cruise control. It felt like it was the first time I’d done that in a while.

I’d like to encourage you to break out of your rut and do something important instead of something urgent.

  • Spent time with someone who enriches your life.
  • Do something you’ll remember a year from now.
  • Listen to some new music you really enjoy.
  • Read a kick ass book that leaves you smiling or crying.
  • Laugh uncontrollably. [4]

I’m not knocking computers either. Write a kick ass program or a write kick ass article. But do something out of your comfort zone. Step away from the urgent to do something important.


  1. I hibernate from December to April.
  2. Make no mistake though, I *love* these services. It’s hard for them to stay relevant though if you follow to many people.
  3. But I don’t think it’s fair to compare Jeff and codinghorror.com to Mike Arrington and TechCrunch. Very different beasts.
  4. If laughing uncontrollably is your rut, then that’s a good rut to have.

6 Responses

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  1. Webomatica said, on April 25, 2008 at 12:16 am

    “A year from now you’ll have a hard time remembering the urgent activities even happened” … very true; I can’t remember much in the blogosphere at this time last year.

    The thing I’ve realized about Twitter, FriendFeed, Google Reader is I will never, ever, ever be caught up. As soon as my “box” is empty, there is more information filling it up. It never ends.

  2. engtech said, on April 25, 2008 at 10:00 am

    @ Webomatica:

    And you know what happens when it does end. You subscribe to more people. :)

  3. […] What Have You Done For You Lately? Engtech mixes up his routine and gets high on life. […]

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  6. Mary said, on May 01, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    Really, really helpful to read this right at this moment when I am looking at how much to get involved in Twitter and all those things. Once I discovered some of these, there did start to be an urgent feeling that I have to get “on board” — like it’s a train that will take me somewhere. I am seeking to make my websites and blogs more interactive, but it’s good to be reminded that it’s what will make a difference long term than matters. I can see that I could spend my whole day with all of this and lose so many of those experiences that make me feel really alive. Funnily enough, my whole business is about “What Have You Done for You Lately” and it’s taken your post to remind me! Not laughing uncontrollably about it, but definitely chuckling, thanks!

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