Actions to take
- Identify what is eating up your time during the day.
- Write down the summary of what you did during the day.
- Stay in the present.
I opened up my computer and was just about to launch Edge (the browser I use). I had no purpose to search for something online or go to a website to get anything done. It was an action driven by automatic habits. If I would not have noticed my action of opening Edge, I would have most likely been watching YouTube or browsing around Twitter for random news instead of writing this thought.
I still have that urge of opening Edge and get into Notion, which I use to plan things. But I am already writing this article, I don’t need to stop writing and plan this out.
Over the years we build these micro habits that get us into this loop of distraction without us noticing it. It is difficult to identify them and figure out what are the triggers that lead to those habits.
Here are some things you can do to identify these micro habits of distraction:
1. Be intentional about your actions
Be aware of the purpose of whatever you are doing.
Don’t jump into doing something without a clear goal. Remember how often we pick up our phones for no reason? These are the things that you need to be careful of. Who knows, these automated actions of a few seconds could lead to endless scrolling in different apps for the next hour.
Being intentional is important. You need to know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
Sometimes you can be so tired to not notice it and it’s okay if this happens once in a while. If this is a constant habit throughout your days, it is time to identify these automatic habits.
2. Identify when and where you get into automatic loops
Similar to the phone example, there are so many short, automated actions we do that can trigger something unintentionally. It takes away our limited time from the things that are important to us and we don’t even notice it.
Actions for these habits are so automatic that they happen without you even knowing about them. It is important to find those triggers when you are right on the edge of engaging in that habit.
Once you have identified the triggers, you need to keep a check on when the trigger is happening.
You can maybe keep a simple mental note about a trigger. And whenever that happens, just tell yourself, “Oh, this is a trigger… it can lead me to the automated habit.”
3. Try resisting automation
When you have identified the automatic habit, it doesn’t mean that you will be able to control them.
For example, a simple notification on Instagram triggers you to open the app and you end up scrolling through Instagram for an infinite amount of time.
This can be a trigger that can be stopped. The next time you get a notification on Instagram, you can tell yourself to just check that notification and get back to the home screen. And kill the Instagram application.
If you want to go one step further, you can.
If tapping on the notification and navigating to the app can trigger a lot of time wastage on Instagram. Just turn off those notifications for Instagram or any other app that you have identified as automated triggers.
This can be true for your work as well. If you have identified that going for a cup of coffee can trigger conversations that can waste a lot of time. Try getting your cup of coffee after you finish something.
So set some goals for yourself, like, you will only go to take the coffee once you finish this task. So even if you waste a lot of time, you have at least gotten something done.
It is all about being intentional about your time and being aware of your actions.
Even if you are having fun, you should know that you are having fun and your mind should not be on a pending tasks that are due soon.
Do remember to be mindful of the present moment you are experiencing, and it will help you be more relaxed and calmer.