The Power of Weakness 2: Lead me not into instant messaging

Working the way I usually do – backed up powerfully by Wikipedia, Google; seriously revising drafts etc. – I sometimes wonder how on Earth pre-computer people were able to do any serious writing.

Of course, I also – paradoxically – sometimes wonder if I wouldn’t be able to work faster, better and with far greater personal gratification if it was just me and a clunky old type-writer alone in a secluded cabin deep in some Swedish forest.

I suppose most of us feel that way. Distractions and how to manage them is certainly a prevalent topic on blogs such as Lifehacker (offering tips on all aspects of your digital existence). Witness also the rise of no-nonsense retro-style full-screen word processors such as Writeroom and Dark Room. These offer to limit your options, for a price (while jDarkroom does it for free).

Image 1: jDarkroom

Riding the wave, Gmail just introduced a useful new feature, giving users the ability to shut down email for a while.

Image 2: Gmail’s Email Addict feature

Such features clearly minimise distractions such as blinking new-email notifiers. But they also help us minimize temptations, that is they help us control our future behaviour by hiding temptations.

Kiss your email problems goodbye

Throughout my thesis writing I found techniques to solve a variety of small-scale IT problems, lifehacks in so many words.
I won’t bore you with them. With one exception: My email setup. Here’s what it achieves:

– No lost emails “ever”, and no need to delete emails
– No more worrying about SMTP servers when on the road (after six months you’ll forget that there ever was a problem)
– The ability to have all one’s emails in one big archive (if you’ve stored your historic correspondence somewhere)
– All this without changing your email address(es)
– Use all your email addresses through one webmail interface
Continue reading Kiss your email problems goodbye