On web counters and distraction

We’ve been without a web counter for a few days, (showing how many people are arriving at our site and where they’re coming from) and I figure my productivity has gone up by 10% or more.

It’s not that I was spending 10% of my day gazing at it, but checking it was the starting point for a change in direction. I would visit sites that linked to us, perhaps leave a comment or email them, and end up spending 1/2 hour before getting back to “work”. One could say that’s a part of work these days, and while that’s true to a degree, my time could be better spent elsewhere.

My day is already full of internal and external interruptions. They’re par for the course and I don’t resent them, but they do make it hard to get into thinking work (writing, long-term planning, etc) which are important but fragile tasks. They’re hard to get into and easy to fall out of when someone taps you on the shoulder. (Programming is also in this category which is why it’s important for companies to protect programmers from needless interruptions.)

Without a counter I’m trading off easy-and-fun work for hard-but-important work. The kid in me wants that damn counter back, but the adult in me is pleased with how much more I’m getting done. It is important to have a counter so you’re not flying blind, but I’m wondering if someone else should watch it, and ping me when something truly urgent/important/interesting happens.

Anyone with similar experiences? Ideas?


8 Comments on “On web counters and distraction

  1. I tend to Andrew Keen’s view of the web, its a great time waster but nothing has changed for the better because of it.

    Well, gotta go and waste some time

  2. Hell, Mr. W. Mill,

    I was suddenly reminded of the Mill and thought I’d look it up to see how you all were doing… last time I checked up on you, your apartment was on fire!

    I am LOVING Ask500People. The only difficulty is that the map loads incredibly slowly, and it’s not like I don’t have decent system resources.





  3. Ian: I’m guessing you’re talking more about the casual use of the web rather than it’s disruptive/democratizing power. I agree it’s a great place to waste time, though, if that’s what you want to do.

    tezcatbus: Yeah, the site itself is indeed pretty heavy on resources, you’re not the first to mention it. We’re continuing to try to make it lighter, but when it comes right down to it, there’s just a lot going on to make it work. Nice to hear from you.

  4. I had the same problem, and it seems that I solved it now. I started using Google Analytics email reports. For each site that I want to know all about, I set up weekly (yes, weekly) reports to be emailed to me. They arrive all together in one bunch and it takes me about 20 minutes to go through them. The PDFs are nice and have all the data I care about, so I don’t even have to login to my Google Analytics account anymore (except those rare occasions when I want to really dig something out).

  5. When you do get the counter back, the wandering out on the ‘net and keeping in touch with those who link to you sounds like a good job to pass on to an employee.

    Just learning at your knee…

  6. Seriously, consider the GoStats “alert”. when you have GoStats installed, you can configure the system to alert you when your traffic pattern changes (above or blow a certain threshold – at which point you should probably take a look at your site)

    -But aside from the alert, you should shedule a time to review the metrics and performance of your site. (weekly, monthly or quarterly at least)

  7. Family farms and small enterprises would be the backbone in our communities.
    Meetings are indispensable once you wouldn’t like to do just about anything.

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