What should I read next? Oh, I must see that new movie! Let’s see what’s trending on YouTube. Yes, Steam sales! — Me
You are what you eat
They say that you are the average of the five people you hang out with. As a proud introvert, I’m usually my own company so I not very concern about these hypothetical five people. However, I’m concerned about others forms of influence, more specifically, digital influence.
I grew up online. I still remember having to connect the RJ45 cable from my PC all the way to my parent’s room, just to have access to a slow, prepaid internet connection. By the way, the worst years of my life don’t wish that on anyone.
I also remember my cousin asking me if I knew about this new website called YouTube. And how hard it was to let go from MSN chat and join Facebook. Man, I sound like an old person…
This tells you how ingrained these websites are in my life, resulting in some unproductive habits. They served me well before specifically to learn video editing and English but now these habits are on the way. Therefore, killing these habits requires my full attention. And here is why…
I often find myself on YouTube or checking Instagram without my full consent. It’s freaky man! It’s like a tic, a twitch. No! More like a brain fart that pulls me out of my work into the land of instant gratification. I would gladly just stop this from happening but unfortunately, I’m literally not in control.
However, I am in control of how I respond once these habits take control.
Practicing to break the loop
All habits begin with a trigger. A light, a sound or both like… I don’t know… a push notification.
That small trigger can start the habit loop and all of the sudden, you are on the passenger seat, watching. The deeper you go into the loop, the harder it is to break from it and that’s why it’s so important to become good at stopping yourself as soon as the trigger hits you.
During the past days, I have been noting down how many of these brainfarts hit me and cause me to unconsciously do something I deem unproductive. On a good day, this happens more or less 10 times and I really don’t want to tell you what I consider a bad day.
At first, it was extremely hard to catch me in these moments but with time it got easier. Our mind is like a flashlight. If we know where to point it, we will discover a bunch of s*** everywhere. Sorry, I’m new to this analogy game.
This exercise made me better at identifying these brain farts and at stopping myself from going through with the habit loop. However, it didn’t reduce the number of triggers I experienced.
Feeding the beast
You know how on a good meal plan you have several mechanisms to make sure you don’t overeat or at least stay on the diet?
Specific meal times and cheat days guarantee you eat just enough and still allow yourself to indulge in the food you really like.
I think the same principles can be applied to a content diet.
Instead of indulging in unproductive activities, reserve an hour per day or per week specifically for these moments. By chunking them all together, the amount of time wasted is smaller and we gain more time for the important activities.
How the hell does chunking time-wasting activities reduces the overall wasted time? — You (hypothetically)
Glad you asked, my skeptic friend. This works for the same reason a cheat meal works. You still get to satisfy whatever cravings you have without feeling guilty. This makes you follow the diet and makes it easier to manage cravings because you know you will have an opportunity to eat whatever you want in the future.
Got it? 🙂
Putting it all together
Consider the ability to break the habit loop like the first line of defense. A way to practice discipline by snapping out of these negative habit loops. You will notice that you get better at catching yourself in these moments especially if you also implement a self-reflection practice like journalling.
The second line of defense comes with the content diet. A plan that represents your ambitions and long-term goals.
DISCLAIMER: This plan can only be made by you, for you. Only you know what works for you. And the best way to discover what works for you is by doing. I would happily make a simple plan but I have something better. Action.
I share these type of journeys on my Instagram page (Yes, I know how ironic this sounds). There you can see the struggles and what it looks like to live the content diet. That’s the best way I can help you. During this month of November, I will share my content diet, as well as my brain fart hunting expedition.
Are you up for the challenge?
PS: Number of brain farts while writing this article: 5
PSS: Props to me for writing a post about procrastination without actually using the word. Oh wait… sh*t. Nevermind.