Mindless clicking, bad habits and open tabs

I mostly write about creativity on my blog. Today I will write about the destroyer of creativity…

I sit down by the computer to be productive. I have my cup of coffee, I have a list of things that I want to go through. Some of the tasks have been on my list for a month now, some longer than that. They are my Next Thing to do, but I never get to them. If keeping a diary is my good habit, a really bad one is to procrastinate (my worst habit I think). Though I am good at it. I’m a great procrastinator, I should get a diploma. I blame it on my brain.


My creative and inventive brain can always come up with new things to do instead of the things I have written down on my list. I get sidetracked, over and over again. I don’t think I’m lazy and I don’t think I’m stupid. I know lots about visualizing, setting goals, being focused, setting an intention… I’m just very very easily distracted by surfing blogs; it is a computer habit I have attained that I can’t get out of.

Mindless Clicking Around – wasting time

My computer time is often spent visiting my favorite blogs all day! And it doesn’t even have to be the ones I want to check in on (my friends) or the collaborative kind of blogs that I enjoy reading articles at and being inspired by (like Shutter Sister and Zen habits etc), sometimes it spend time clicking around at the flickr site (always being a nice girl and commenting) or finding “new blogs” that interest me by clicking from one post to another. In this way I spend hours. And I do not get my shit together. I get sidetracked by these amazing new finds; creative people that has written article after article on subjects I’m very interested in – linking on to others that looks like I’d like what they have to say too…

Habits are, as you know, difficult to create when you want to create a them intentionally. They are equally hard to break when it’s something you do without thinking (as you tend to do all the time, and hence creating that bad habit without even knowing what you’re doing). So even with the best of intentions and a cup of freshly fetched coffee, I click away.

I open too many windows and in Firefox I open to many tabs. And when I notice that I’m sidetracked again I try to come back, but it’s not as easy as when you meditate. Then you notice your thoughts are wondering (monkey mind) and go back to the breath. Close your eyes for a second and start over. But your computer screen – it’s a mess all of a sudden. When you notice that you have 15 tabs open that you clicked open to check out and/or read you can’t close your eyes because they will not disappear. I opened them for a reason. To check out, read, tag, print or use as reference later. I need a system to help me out of this mess!

The online squirrel in me

Have you noticed how a big amount of your online time is spent being a squirrel? Running around, up and down the tree, collecting nuts for the winter. Hearting (♥) your favorite sellers and items at Etsy, hearting (♥) beautiful photos at flickr, bookmarking stuff in your browser or using different online services (like delicious). Collecting “friends” at different communities like they were trophies to hang on the wall, contacts that you don’t know or care for at facebook, twitter, flickr, delicious, etsy… Collecting tutorials for crafts, patterns and ideas that “inspires” us….

When will the winter come when we will have the time to snuggle up in our tree house and go through all of these nuts? Probably never.

At twitter I’m being added by famous people like Mark Montano yesterday! What the… I didn’t even like his book The Big-Ass Book of Crafts. And today Jennifer Worick (probably recommended by Mr Tweet to be a part of her expanding craft community perhaps?) added me! Me, a nobody. Jennifer is a woman who has written articles in cool magazines and lots of cool looking books that I wish I’d written, instead of “clicking around” for years now.

Tools is not enough

Those e-mails are difficult to me. They flood my inbox and I don’t like it. I never go there to write the answers to all of those e-mails. I just browse through and click und so weiter… I saw a tips on lifehack from the article How to Be Awesome at Followup where they mention marking the letters you will want to respond to later! That is such a great idea – why didn’t I think of that earlier? I don’t use gmail but yahoo have a little flag too that you can click and then highlight the e-mail that you want to respond to! I’ve tried this and it does make it easier knowing what you have to do, but not easier getting there.

I’ve also started to “unsubscribe” to a few mailinglists, like Lisa’s list and TUT every day, even though I like them. I’m always impressed by what Lisa accomplishes – she is a role model for anyone who wants to have a business online. She sends out her newsletter once a week I think, and she always has links to her own websites in them. Links to new art, new challenges, new downloadables, new stuff to buy and look at. I think that should be me, but it never is. I have a newsletter and it never gets updated because my etsy doesn’t get updated! How can I sell stuff when nothing happens on these parts of the wood?

Although I did add two new notebooks to my Etsy Shop today, just to try to feel like I’m doing something. It’s the Storietimes for young ones and a great gift for the nurse friend in your life; The Florence Nightingale Notebook! Patting myself on the back. Please check them out.

Respecting your time

So, it’s time for some changes again. After reading and reviewing David Allen’s book Getting Things Done last year I’ve become better at maintaining a list of things that is improtant to me. The Next Action list (I have a notebook for it!!!) is great, but only if you look at it and tick of things from it!

I’m pondering my new rules as I write this. I will not be able to completely stop this or that, I need to put restrictions on what I can do (that I shouldn’t do) and have rules about what I should have done (the list!) before I can mindlessly surf or click around! Today I was at a thrift shop looking for a new vintage book to alter as my Art Journal. I found a beautiful one about the ocean, and I also bought Wayne Dyer’s old book (from 1976!) ?lska dig sj?lv – inte s?mre ?n man g?r sig translated from English Your Erroneous Zones. I will start reading it right now.

I was thinking that this post would end in a kind of statement. A descision or a set of rules to live by. But I feel I need to step away from this subject for now and think about it for a while. I will read the articles I’ve found and close the tabs I’ve opened. Regroup. How to keep updated and informed without all this mindless clicking?

Please, add your advice, thoughts or ideas.

Right now I’m going to close all tabs and go on with my life. The tabs are as follows:
fluentself.com, creativeliberty, Lensbaby 101, betz white’s blog, etsy forums and jon buscall’s blog!

Productivity hacks

* Getting Things Done – this great book by David Allen is a must-read!
* Mastering the art of prioritization
* Big Rocks First: Double Your Productivity This Week
Developing Creative Momentum: Cultivating Positive Habits and Rituals
7 Ways Being Unbalanced Can Make You More Productive!

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22 Responses to Mindless clicking, bad habits and open tabs

  1. Nice that you have found me, and now I have found you. You creative brain is not unusal, it has got plenty of friends I think. Me anyway. There is some much that inspires and is interesting out there. Sidetracking is quite normal. That is what it is all about isn`t it?
    Have you tested Angelina fibers? If not, I can send you some, and a book that I have written about how to use them. I haven`t had time to look through and read about all of your creative projects…but I will have a closer look.

  2. iHanna says:

    Lena! Thanks for coming by, I’m not sure I know what my Big Worthy Projects are this year, that’s why I feel lost. And yes, getting sidetracked and inspired is good. Not getting back to your foucs (ever) is not though. :-) Would love to try out some angelina, I think it’s a kind of plastic to sew with? Correct me if I’m wrong!

  3. Flassie says:

    How about discipline. Don’t sit in front of the
    computer first thing. Do the meditating and
    creativity b/4 going to blogs. Put a timer on
    and only alow a certain amount of time in
    blogland and that is it.

    I don’t sign up to be a follower to blogs.
    I just go there when I have the time or
    when the computer will let me in. Sometimes
    I can’t get into comments because we are using
    the laptop and have low connection most of the time.
    I can’t always get to my emails either.

    There is life outside of the internet that is worth living.

    We don’t have to do it all either and remember you have
    your own ideas and don’t need inspiration from others.

    Just look at the blank canvas and fill it up
    with your own ideas!~Flassie

    God Bless You and Yours and Your Creative Disciplined Life!!!

  4. Hi!

    I see you’ve discovered my blog, and now here I am at yours! I can completely identify with traveling the Internet via links and then more to this blog and that site. One can find so much! But, on the other hand, there is work to be done.

    I have to say, I’m really enjoying all your creative stuff here! I just took up knitting, so I’m a real newbie at making stuff and I feel a little funny wandering a truly crafty person’s site. But I’m having fun.

  5. iHanna says:

    Oh Flassie, you’re being harsh on me today! But I need it, I know.
    And you’re funny, as some of my creative work is done in front of the computer – so just walking away is not always the answer, sorry. Though a low internet connection might be the answer, I do have a little switch that closes the line on my laptop… If only I could use it when I need it! :-)

    Lee Ann – I looove your blog so I’m glad you’ve found mine and having fun! Welcome and enjoy your stay! Knitting is great meditation after writing, for example.

  6. leah says:

    oh, i can SO relate to this entire post!! :-)

  7. Hagit says:

    I have to agree. I’m a great procrastinator, and I work alone at home, so I can find myself surfing blogs for hours, instead of working. But even worse, I dream all day about crafting in the evening, and when the evening comes, I’m still glued to blogs and Flickr and inspiration, and then I can understand how “bad” that is, in the sense that the real thing is crafting itself, not just looking at pictures. So I think we need to learn to disconnect from the computer, but, oh, it’s SO hard! So I guess I haven’t said anything too helpful here, huh? :-)

  8. Courtney says:


    This post *perfectly* captured what has been driving me crazy about myself lately. A gazillion open tabs, hours (!!!) spent lurking, getting ideas for new projects, etc. etc. etc. !

    I’m so glad to know I’m not the only person who struggles with this. I know that the temptation of so much easily accessible inspiration overwhelms me … yet I continue reading, surfing, posting.

    And now: inspiration from you to help me get things under control. Thank you, thank you!

  9. Juanita says:

    Oh, it is comforting to know that I am in good company! I get SO sidetracked and lose focus so easy, then I become brutal with myself which doesn’t help the problem. But I am realizing the benefit of “the next step”, and it usually involves avoiding the computer until I have done something creative myself. I am currently reading “Life is a Verb” by Patti Digh and it is WOW! Best Wishes on the battle.

  10. Flassie says:

    I didn’t mean to sound harsh. It was just an idea
    I thought I’d write down because you asked for

    I do know how it is to get caught up searching the
    internet and know that I myself need more discipline
    to stay offline.

    One other thing that helps is that I share the computer
    and only get to use it when dd isn’t.

    I am making banana bread at the moment and thought
    I’d get online to write down a quote I made up and put
    it in draft. While doing so I made up another one. So I
    guess the computer is a creative place to create.

    LOL, about low internet connection just might be the anwser!

    God Bless You and Yours and Your Creative Ideas!!!

  11. I call the internet The Rabbit Hole, and you can go down, down, down seemingly forever, into the twisting, turning darkness. It sucks away my concentration, disrupts my creativity and productivity as you say…and I also love it. Trouble in paradise: me online.

  12. Shell says:

    It is true you can get caught up with all the stuff happening online. I don’t twitter at all. I don’t do facebook that much. That helps me. I have lately been cutting down on my blog list. Going to places I really love and inspire me.
    I’m not that big on lists and timers. Sometimes if I have things to get done, I like to go online at night. Leave the daytime hours for projects I want do. Then at night, when I get on. I feel more centered and quiet to make my rounds.
    You’ll find the way that works for you, Hanna.

  13. maria says:

    Jag har best?mt mig f?r att jobbkv?llar f?r jag surfa lite direkt efter eller innan maten n?r jag kommer hem. Sedan str?var jag efter att helt st?nga ner datorn runt kl ?tta och d?refter l?sa eller g?ra n?got annat, f?r att inte bli sittande eller vandra mellan den och det andra jag ocks? skulle beh?va g?ra. Det funkar ganska bra hittills men jag ska blir b?ttre. Det ?r mitt b?sta s?tt att undvika klickandet… annars blir jag fast.

  14. mijk says:

    If I had took the time to actually blog instead of just surfing away wherever the internet takes me I could have written this post. I do think providing links in such a post is evil ;)

  15. Oh my goodness. I can relate to this so well … procrastinating, bumping around the web when there are other things, which I am more passionate about, waiting for me to tend to them. Oh, and the bookmarking! I bookmark this and that, with full intention that I will have some use for it, but all that it does is make my list long.

    May February prove to be less procrastiny (not a word, I know) for both of us!

  16. Katherine says:

    I’m so glad to hear I’m not the only one who does this… it’s just amazing how the time disappears when you’re online! Sometimes it can be dangerously time-wasting, but it’s also true that you never know what you will find – sometimes you do come across something really inspiring that really does set off new ideas, maybe even a project!

    lovely blog hanna :)

  17. Chris says:

    oh, Hanna, how I relate. I am stretched to the limit sometimes with all the sites I love to visit! and sometimes I resist the compulsion, but then I find out I’ve missed something good and I swear I won’t miss it again! But there is no time, really, in our finite lives for all of this. I tell myself it’s okay if I miss something. It helps me calm down. I do think that having a lot of interests keeps us young and keeps our minds strong and actually can make us smarter. But I know in myself that there’s a difference between quantity and quality.
    On the other hand, what if you hadn’t taken the time to share those links with me? I would never have found such great sites! And I wouldn’t have heard about Sune Jonsson! Yours is definitely a blog I will keep as a go-to.
    It’s always difficult to balance, but the worst thing would be to get down on yourself about it. When I do that it makes all of it bad, and it’s not bad. It’s not a value judgment kind of thing. It’s clear and simple behaviorism. We just have to learn to select other behaviors. When I feel out of control about it, I tell myself I will reward myself at the END of the day with a couple of hours of blog-surfing. Then I can relax and produce art at the beginnig of the day or right after my job, rather than making the blogs the first thing I do.

    I hope this doesn’t sound preachy, it’s just what I do. It’s a difficult problem sometimes.

  18. Hannah says:

    Hi Hanna! (Guess what? My name’s Hannah with an H ~_^)
    Haha, I know this goes against the message in your post, but I’m awfully curious now and would love to know more more about “Lisa’s Lists”. Is there a link to her website you could share?
    Thank you thank you. :)

  19. Ketutar says:

    ROTFLMAO! I was just doing this yesterday :-) And now I’m writing a blog entry about this :-D

  20. jo says:

    How true. But I have no intentions, but I should.
    Love that that phrase, the squirrel in me. It does say alot about me too. cute blog.

  21. beinred says:

    Yes I am also squirrelly, but I like to remind myself of all the things I’ve learned from link chasing.

  22. Mindful Mimi says:

    Hi there,
    I have stumbled across your blog by doing just what you described. Procrastinating and surfing blogs looking for interesting things. Well I am glad I did because I found you. I love your blog and your creativity. I will be back.

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