How Bandwidth is Killing Productivity

Actually the title is bit misleading. The fact is it’s not the bandwidth’s fault but the fact that most of the modern ISP’s plans comes with almost unlimited data.

I’ve moved to a new flat in early December and I was trying to move my BT broadband package with me. Turned out that the building I moved into has some internal cabling issues so BT couldn’t connect me up. I had a couple of fights between me and my landlord, and me and BT but long story short I have no hope for getting broadband in this flat. So I decided to buy one of these mobile broadband dongles. I’m lucky enough to live in a HSPA+ area so the speed is pretty good, but the data transfer is limited and the top-ups are quite expensive. They charge me £25 / 7 Gb of data, which is enough for about 5-7 days of surfing (+ bloody windows downloading it’s annoying updates). First I was really annoyed by it but then I started to realize that it is probably a good thing.

I’m a full time coder at a startup in London but I also have my own projects / freelance jobs on the side so I used to spend about 2-3 nights a week working on those projects. Since I don’t have a proper broadband connection these coding sessions became more frequent (3-4 nights a week) and the output of them was way better. Here is why (I think):

  • No more streaming videos: I have to admit that I’m addicted to TV shows. I used to spend at least 3 hours a day watching my shows. Also there is Youtube where I was just aimlessly watching random videos which I don’t even care about. At the high cost of the mobile broadband data I can’t afford this luxury => more time for actual work.
  • Facebook: I never realized before that Facebook notifications are probably the most disrupting things in the world. I always had FB open in a tab and whenever a notification came up I had to check it. And while I was at it I checked all the recent activity. There goes 30 minutes down the toilet. Then again with these data prices I learned to check Facebook way less.
  • Music: Data cap means no more Spotify, back to the good old mp3s. No more Spotify means I don’t spend hours seeking for new music (which I listen to once then never again)
  • Email: Instead of having gmail constantly open in a window and answering each email right after receiving it, I started to check it periodically. It led to less real-time conversations which saves tons of time for me.

And this list could go on, but you get the idea. The other interesting thing I realized is that I’m more willing to work on boring stuff since the change. Before I usually did the proof-of-concept kind, exciting parts of the project during weekdays and left the tweaking and the fine tuning for the more relaxed weekends. Nowdays I’m more than willing to do a boring form validation or database cleanup type of code chunk during a Wednesday evening.

Anyways: I challenge you to try out having a limited amount of data transfer for a week (install a bandwidth cap software or tether your mobile) and I guarantee you that you will produce more and better lines of code.

Disclaimer: Writing this blog post wasn’t really productive. Now I will use 500 Mb of my data allowance to stream a movie

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