One of the world’s greatest computer criminal masterminds is serving two concurrent 20-year sentences following a series of cyberheists unparalleled in their sheer volume of human victimization. Albert Gonzalez used his hacker powers for evil, and it’s actually a really sad story because, as the PSAs of the ’70s pointed out, a mind is a terrible thing to waste.
Of course, it didn’t have to be like that. In one sense of the word, hacks are awesome, even necessary.
Can you even conceive how long it would take to do even the most mundane tasks if our brain didn’t take shortcuts for us? What if every time we decided to eat cereal we had to test if a spoon, fork or knife was the best utensil for the job? Like heuristics, hacks are life’s little shortcuts that save us time and effort, and, presumably, make our lives better as a result.
Since I became a freelance writer, my major challenge has been managing my time. Last night I came across a solution befitting a procrastinator like me. It’s called the 30/30 Minute Work Cycle.
It goes like this: work for 30 minutes with zero distractions. No email, no cell phones, no Twitter. Then, when the 30 minutes of work time is up, go and do something relaxing or fun for 30 minutes. Repeat the cycle until your work is finished.
Right now, as I write, my timer is rolling back from 24 minutes and a handful of seconds.
I realize this is an insane experiment, writing about my time management trials in real-time, my patient editor, Arienne, unaware of what nonsense could be rolling across her desk a few hours from now. But I’m willing to try it to keep from an anxiety-ridden mental state where important tasks perpetually get pushed further and further down an imaginary timeline in my mind. If the 30/30 Work Cycle works, what a great shortcut it will be. Hypothesize, test, analyze, repeat. You know what I’m talking about, SEMs.
I rely on other shortcuts, too. There’s Google Reader to help me find inspiration (such as the Albert Gonzalez story). There’s Facebook to touch base with friends. And, of course, there’s Raven Tools, which delivers vital stats, competitive analysis, progress reports and tracking just when SEOs need them. These are all hacks in the service of good.
What are your favorites?