Having your time back

Photo by Merakist on Unsplash

A few weeks ago, I decided to delete a few apps that are known to be colossal time-sucks. So I said goodbye to Facebook, Twitter, and uhm, Tiktok.

As I write this, I must say, I don’t miss them. I don’t miss the red notifications that light up when a new message or an unread post comes along. I don’t miss checking my news feeds for any news or updates from friends and friends of friends who are all part of my echo chamber. I don’t miss the loud chatter on Twitter and the artificially driven #trendingtopics that are mostly irrelevant. I don’t miss checking breaking news on Twitter. I can find them elsewhere. I don’t miss missing out on memes.

I no longer do mindless, endless scrolling.

But I kept my chat apps, where I still get news and rumors from the mill. I kept some news apps too: Nuzzel, Google News, NYT, Vice, Buzzfeed, Reddit, among others. But I decided to turn off notifications to these apps to save me from checking them every time.

I have limited my social media time on my desktop. This means I check Facebook when I decide to fire up a web browser. So, count me out from those targeted ads on mobile. I’m back to surfing the web.

The Trigger

Thanks to Manoush Zomorodi’s Ted Talk, I was reminded that we are now too busy slicing time into tiny bits of “things to do.” We don’t have enough time to pause and reflect.

Zomorodi, a broadcast journalist, spent most of her days chasing and telling stories. When she became a mother, she had an epiphany.

As a full-time mom, she was often exhausted, sometimes bored. She recalled the time when her baby was born. Of course, her time was focused on taking care of the baby. But while motherhood made her happy, she missed the “rush” of doing journalism. She felt tired. She had trouble coming up with new ideas. Then, it happened. While she was “doing nothing,” her brain started generating ideas!

The Hamster Problem

This social experiment was also triggered by feelings of being stuck in a rut. It’s a feeling of being busy but not necessarily being productive. Yes, we fill our days with so many “things to do” and “jobs to be done” that we miss out on dealing with more important and meaningful things.

Here’s an example: Look at your day. How much of your time is wasted on hours and countless meetings. While this is mostly happening virtually these days, imagine how much brain cells are spent on listening, making sense of complicated slides, and endless bantering on side chats with colleagues. Then, after these regular meetings, you spent a few more hours wading through hundreds of email messages, chat conversations, social media updates, and smaller group conversations. By the time you’ve reached this part, it’s past lunch time, and you’ve barely checked off your list of JTBDs.

The next day. It’s going to be on repeat with a few variations of what I just pictured. There’s little time left for thinking, and doing things that will have an impact–yes, the more important things.

There’s also another saying that I keep repeating to friends and colleagues: when everything is urgent, then none are.

The Call-To-Action

Because of recent feelings of being stuck in the proverbial Hamster wheel, I decided to eliminate useless activities that still require some form of decision-making (thinking). And following this line of thinking, I decided to further simplify my daily grind.

So I deleted apps on my phone that took away time from doing real-work. I forced myself to focus on a few things only, and devote the morning to the most difficult tasks–okay, to important work. Afternoons are then broken down to more menial, administrative stuff.

I also took more frequent breaks especially when I’m working from home. I stretch, I walk my dog, I take a power nap, and I drink coffee while I do nothing. I don’t check my phone. I just sit in a corner or on my gaming chair, wondering and day-dreaming.

The Result

I finished reading a 400+ page ebook. I started to write again (this blog included). I paid more attention to creating and generating new ideas. I was able to finish the day with enough energy to read another ebook. I also regained some time with my wife and children, even if it’s just time spent on eating a delicious meal together.

In the next few weeks, I plan to exercise for at least 30 minutes, fix my monthly budget, eliminate more debts (and clearing my bills), and organizing my desk.

All these, I can do because I deleted a few, mind-numbing apps on my smartphone. I also have more time watching Ted Talks like this one from Adam Grant.

An ex-journalist. Teacher. Dad. Loves Guitar & Books. Writes when inspiration hits him.

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