Summer holidays had barely started when I realized that the amount of work I needed to complete over the summer was going to require an extra boost in productivity and focus. My first measure was to cut myself off from Twitter completely:
Taking a summer vacation from Twitter. See you all in September!
— Mike Berg (@weheartgames) July 15, 2013
Reactions varied from encouragement to mild incredulity:
I deleted Tweetbot from my Mac, iPhone and iPad, and settled in to work.
Filling the empty spaces
I immediately discovered how many “empty spaces” I was filling with Twitter. I’d literally be waiting for a page to load, and reach for CMD-Tab to switch to Tweetbot. I probably don’t need to describe the number of time-consuming rabbit trails this led me down. Rather than being hard for me to quit, though, it was quite educational for me, to learn how much mindspace it was taking up.
I also discovered I was constantly thinking, with everything I did in day-to-day life, how to turn it into some kind of clever tweet.
Filling the non-empty spaces
Making a clean cut for a few weeks was somewhat freeing, in that I was able to “be more present” with my kids and family. The importance of being fully present while spending time with your kids cannot be overstated. I’d take my kids to the park, and catch myself pulling out my iPhone to check my feed. Is that the impression I want to give them, about their place in my life? Here’s a thought from 2011:
Realizing I only have one chance to create a childhood for my kids whose primary memory of me isn’t “looking at his iPhone”.
— Mike Berg (@weheartgames) January 13, 2011
I’d call the experiment a success, and not only because I got my projects completed (more on that in a future post). I didn’t fully realize how much space Twitter was taking in my life until I pulled the plug completely. Being aware of it is the biggest win to come from this.
No, Twitter is not evil
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Twitter is some sinister force invading my life. I owe a significant part of my career in game development to Twitter and the connections I’ve made through it. I regularly find great value in the conversations I have and feedback I receive from other game devs. I also did miss the “water cooler” aspect of using Twitter to socialize with the friends I’ve made online.
Now that I know how much it affects my productivity, though, I can better choose how much time I spend using it.
- I won’t be putting Tweetbot back on my Mac (at least for now — the benefits of group feedback while working on something might outweigh this), and relegate it to iThings; the idea for which came from @majicDave.
- I will try to avoid clicking on omgcheckoutthiscoolthing tweets, and keep my browsing relevant to game dev and game dev conversations.
- I will tweet less, and keep my tweets more on the topics of games, game art and game dev.
This should allow me to continue my involvement with the Twitter game dev community, which means a lot to me, and still remain productive at work, and fully engaged with my family.