Focusing on the wrong things

I just went through and removed all the analytics I had on this site and my podcast. There isn’t anything intrinsically wrong with collecting that kind of data. It can be useful and potentially essential if you sell advertising on your site. For me, however, I found that it was causing two serious problems:

  1. I had begun to define the success, quality and usefulness of an article by the view count it received. The danger there is that suddenly I’m not writing what I think is the best article or covering the topic I find most interesting. I’m writing whatever I think will get the most traffic. I don’t want to be that kind of writer. I’d rather speak into any empty room about something I’m passionate about than to a stadium of people about something irrelevant.
  2. I found that I spent a unhealthy amount of time dissecting the data. If you have spent any amount of time here you know how much I like data. I wouldn’t be surprised if I have spent more time looking at my analytics than actually writing.

Neither of these are good for me and my craft. So, since I don’t have enough self control to just not look, I’ve pulled all those collectors offline.

The broader point is how important it is to be introspective about how we are using all the tools and services we interact with. The insane variety of inputs that are vying for our attention aren’t all worthwhile. If I’m not careful I’m easily swept up into things that are wasting my time and not helping me improve. It is a constant fight to curate my attention to only those things that are actually worthwhile.

David Smith