On Wasted Time
Recently I’ve been feeling… unaccomplished. Despite all my achievements, acquired skills, and successes I’ve had a thought gnawing at the back of my mind. I realized, after looking at my extensive list of side and toy projects, that none of them are making any progress. In some of them I invested lots of time, others are just ideas, barely sketches. But they all have in common that I grew tired of working on them. Either because after a day at work my brain is tired, or because other things are taking precedence. I’ve moved into a house that requires constant upkeep. Things break or wear out and before your know it you’ve spent an afternoon fixing something. And then I’ve finally picked up a regular workout routine. Generally I’m proud of that, and because these things take time, I had no time for my side projects. Or at least that’s what I thought and told myself.
The reality is that I’ve spent more time on Reddit and other social media websites than is good for me. Particularly in the recent political climate reading about what is going on in the world is like watching a never ending accident that you cannot look away from. I used to enjoy reddit, and I keep reading it, telling myself that I’m “relaxing”. But it is anything but. My brain has been conditioned to crave short bursts of information and consume other people’s opinions about it. I realized that I was having a hard time staying focused on reading full length articles and that despite me telling myself it was relaxing, I would feel anything but relaxed. The sheer amount of negativity and hate one can encounter online is incredibly draining and makes one want to despair over the state of the world. The consequence was that on the days that I have time to actually indulge in this behaviour, I would see the clock tick away, and my side projects remain unfinished and me being frustrated.
This was a realization that took me some time to get to. My feeling unaccomplished was based on the fact that I kept feeding my brain a fast food diet while it actually requires a solid diet of undisturbed periods where I focus on something to learn or produce. Luckily I’m not the only one that feels like that. I’ve had several great conversations with others in the same boat. Just hearing that I’m not the only one that feels like this was encouraging and inspired me to take action.
I’ve come up with the following resolutions to silence my noisy mind and be more productive:
- No more consumption of reddit or other social media on mobile devices. I’ve uninstalled the respective apps, which only leaves the browser, making it “hard” enough for me not to do use them.
- Minimize distractions on laptop/computer, maybe even block these websites on a firewall level.
- Focus on reading full length articles or books. My kindle has fresh books on it, my Pocket list has lots of articles that are just waiting to be read.
- Explicitly set aside time to work on smaller projects. Just do something instead of wasting time.
- Blog more or less regularly again. I used to write about stuff I’m interested in or things that took me time to figure out. I should do this again.
- Relax and recharge doing things that actually are like that instead of mindlessly feeding my brain.
- Accept that I can’t change my habits in a day. It will take time to train myself otherwise.
I’m already implementing some of these resolutions and it has had a positive impact on myself. This blog post is another step to get things going. Let’s see where this leads me.