Pull to refresh. Swipe to refresh. Swipe up. Scroll. Scroll. Pull. Scroll.
Sounds like a typical day? Me too. But why does it all happen? Why do we keep doing the same things, looking for the same things to happen. Even more so these days when almost all of us are stuck at home. I’m no psychologist by any means but lately, I have been thinking a lot about this and so I was prompted to share my story and ways I have found that helps.
Over the past year or so, a typical routine for me would involve the following: get up, stop the alarm, scroll for an hour,(some work scattered here and there), feel even worse, to begin with, and then finally force myself to get up, go sit somewhere else and get back to scrolling. The fact that everything I like spending my time on requires a digital device does not help. I'm a programmer, a coder, and an avid reader. Oops.
What if you are nothing like me? Well. Just notice how long you spend doing the same anyway :)
Before we do go on, let us first try to define an ideal situation. It always helps to know our questions before we start looking for answers. Here is what we aim to do.
We are not trying to remove technology from our lives. That would not exactly help and would be more of an escape from the question instead. What we truly seek is to not let it destroy our lives. To use it as a tool. And not as a crutch. To use it to make our lives better but not watch it burn everything to ashes.
Okay now that that’s out of the way, let us talk a little more about what are the ways we are usually dependent on it. Just to see if we can find any patterns.
If you are anything like me, I use my phone as an alarm clock. This starts the day with me staring at a screen. Weirdly enough, I even seem to instantly forget my dreams. Think about it. Does it do that for you too?
After that, I mindlessly scroll Instagram and LinkedIn telling myself that hey, I can use them for inspiration and maybe learn something. Eventually, I get around to chatting with my friends. Being stuck at home, the phone is my only connection to the world beyond these walls. That surely does not help.
I use my devices for a million things starting from ebooks to writing to drawing. And like many of us, I own multiple devices. That of course maximizes the potential of being hooked again. I then end the day with the mindless scroll.
Do you see a pattern here? Let’s break it down and let us see if we can answer some of our questions.
1. The morning. I have found that the most important way to not get sucked in, is to make sure you do not start the day with it. Over the past few weeks, I have been leaving my phone in another room. (You could leave it across the room if that is not an option) I generally wake up at the same time without an alarm but eventually, I will substitute it for a physical alarm clock. Doing that has significantly made a difference. Try it.
2. Keep a little notepad next to you. Many times when we are focusing on a task, we have ideas, questions, thoughts. While reading a book, you might find an interesting topic. Write them down. Google for it later. It is such a tiny thing but it stops us from getting lost in the loophole.
3. Find the things that make it more “convenient” to get lost. As an example, opening email or social media is way more optimized on a phone as compared to the web versions of the same. Of course, that is by design. So why not separate which device you use to access services. Remove the “apps” and use the web versions. Delete email from your phone. Check your laptop instead.
4. Organize. Another very useful tip I found was to organize everything ruthlessly. Putting all “apps” in one folder and using search to open them instead makes sure you are mindful about it. Cleaning up the clutter we leave behind every day reduces the time it takes to find things and removes some hooks.
5. Reduce the effort it takes to use the important things. Automate as much as you can. Organize. Think about it. When you open your Home Screen/desktop what do you see? How easy is it to get to work? How easy it is to go away from work?
Having every app on the same page or a hundred icons on the desktop does not help. Use the search instead. Not only is it more efficient, but it would also prevent you from being distracted directly. Or even overwhelmed.
6. Doodle. You might not be an artist, but I’m yet to find someone who dislikes doodling. Of course, you don’t have to show anyone those doodles. Grab a pencil/pen and a pad. Doodle. It does not matter if you end up drawing walking headphones or squiggles which look like another language. Just do it.
As a little summary : Have a peaceful morning, jot down your thoughts, make it really hard to get lost, organize ruthlessly, make it easier to work, draw things.
These are the changes that I introduced to my daily routine. They have massively helped me manage my focus and be in a better mood. Of course, I do slip up on the days where I have no motivation to do anything else. But, it certainly is much better than before.