Assume you have a magical cold foamy beer at your elbow all the time, and it never finishes. You decide to quit alcohol, but the refreshing, bubbling golden beer is always at your reach. You cannot help but keep drinking.
That describes my relationship with web surfing. I spent a shameful amount of time reading articles and blog posts about programming, news, and politics. There is an infinite amount of entertainment online. Evolutionary speaking, the human species never had free and unlimited access to entertainment. This endless, omnipresent entertainment is a disaster for productivity.
When it comes to deep work, I need to focus on the task for a long time. I tried various techniques, from using sheer willpower to apps like the freedom app to avoid distractions. I had no lasting success. My brain always found a way to justify the distraction. My productivity level went down to the bottom. I felt so miserable.
So I decided to read on paper instead of a digital device. I went even further. I decided to buy a mechanical typewriter. Why? Because I could not do anything else than writing with it. Very focused.
There was a problem, though. First, I am a programmer, and I need to run the programs I write. Also, mechanical typewriters put lots of strain on my eyes and backs. So I wondered: can I find or make a barebone computer that is not capable to connect to the internet? You may say why not just disable your laptop WIFI?! The temptation to check the news or something will tempt me to turn on the WIFI and stick the hose of the internet into my brain.
Long story short, I bought a Raspberry Pi and installed Ubuntu for Raspberry Pi on it. Then after installing the software packages I wanted, I uninstalled its only internet browser, Firefox. I connected it to my mechanical keyboard and a large monitor. It’s now like a mechanical typewriter! The whole setup costs me $100 (excluding the keyboard and monitor because I already had them).
My new setup is still connected to the internet, but it does not have a browser. No web surfing anymore. As I still have internet access on Raspberry Pi, I can push my work to Github using the command line. I have created an email account specifically to send or receive articles or ebooks between my Raspberry Pi and my usual computer. I don’t use that email for anything else.
You can go even deeper than me and install the Ubuntu Server on the Raspberry Pi. The Ubuntu server does not have any graphical user interface. You’d have to use command line and write your books using nano, emacs, or vim text editors. This is closer to a mechanical typewriter.