productivity / time / attention / personal

Reading time:
2 min. | 325 words

What worries me are the consequences of a diet comprised mostly of fake-connectedness, makebelieve insight, and unedited first drafts of everything. I think it’s making us small. I know that whenever I become aware of it, I realize how small it can make me. So, I’ve come to despise it.

I recently reread Merlin Mann’s piece Better and much of it really resonated with me.

It’s been a crazy year. I wrote an ebook on Ruby programming that received a lot of feedback. I started an alt-ac job working on the Cody Archive for CDRH. I completed my progress towards UNL’s new Certificate in Digital Humanities. I adopted a second dog and have worked hard with both of them in training. In my personal life I’ve had both profound sadness and extreme happiness, both for myself and for those around me.

There are other areas where I see a need to be better, to tune out the distractions, and focus on what’s important. I’m walking away from half-finished, half-useful things I make and consume.

In other words, I’m becoming much pickier about where my attention goes. I enjoy connecting, sharing, finding similar interests. But I’m drawing a new line for myself. I’m cutting away things I no longer find useful. What matters is the hard work and personal connections I make, not the most recent meme on Reddit, some half-witted Twitter update, some design tweak on my blog, or imaginary achievements on XBox.

So, my New Year pledges echo Merlin’s:

  • if it has a small return, remove it
  • remove anything that is more noisy than useful
  • be brutally honest about what I don’t need to be doing
  • avoid fakeness
  • demand personal focus on making good things
  • put a handful of real people at the center of everything

I want to go be awesome. I’m seizing back my time and attention from the noise and fakeness and want to show the world what I can make.


Greetings! My name is Jason Heppler. I am a Digital Engagement Librarian and Assistant Professor of History at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a scholar of the twentieth-century United States. I often write here about the history of the North American West, technology, the environment, politics, culture, and coffee. You can follow me on Twitter, or learn more about me.