Actions to take
- Plan a task for the morning a night before.
- Focus on finishing one task every morning.
- Save articles to read later.
Jack wakes up in the morning at 7, still lying in bed, he picks up his phone. The phone is silently waiting for him with a bunch of notifications. He scrolls through all the notifications and dismisses them. He keeps the phone back and slides himself up to a sitting position. He realizes he didn’t check the time, so he picks up the phone again. It is 7:04 and a new notification is staring at him.
[jack_94]: mourning_morivation__345 liked your photo.
He taps on the notification to check the new random user who liked last night’s post. He spends a few minutes scrolling through his profile to find it is stupid. This triggers him to check which of his friends liked his post. He navigates back to the post, hits on the 23 likes link and starts scrolling through the list.
At 7:53 he is now on YouTube watching the trailer of a latest movie. The trailer finished and he checks the time and jumps out of the bed in a hurry. He is now late for work.
If you don’t have an Instagram account, good for you, it’s a blessing in disguise.
Start with control
Every morning you start your day by letting the distractions lead you to a new day. It is not just getting sucked into your phone, but distractions come in various shapes and sizes. You need to identify and notice these distractions. It is not very difficult to find a pattern and identify unplanned tasks that put you in an unpleasant headspace. You might be starting your day thinking about something or someone unpleasant and maybe the first thing you hear in the morning is your family members or neighbors talking about you. You subconsciously follow the same pattern you started with and carry it throughout the day and this becomes a normal habit in your days. This is where a small change can add a boost of positivity to your day. You need to take more control of your thoughts and isolate yourself from distracting noises. There is an entire day left to be in the noise and there is nothing much you can do during the day to isolate yourself.
Start your day with something planned. Pick a planned task that you need to complete in the first hour of your day. The task can be making a cup of coffee, reading, writing, exercise or cycling, but something that you can give a minimum of 10 minutes. You don’t need fancy routines or rituals to follow, just one simple thing and that will make all the difference.
Completing that task will not only make you feel more in control of your day but will also give you a sense of accomplishment. Waking up with a sense of accomplishment gives a calming and satisfied start to your day.
Do not explore
You need to make sure that you are not making decisions after committing to the task. Waking up and picking up the task are already decisions you make. Your brain is not very active at this moment and will not prefer making more decisions resulting in falling for distractions. Decide the task a night before, especially if it is about reading.
If you decide to read a book, you should know which one or if it’s an article you should know which one and from where. To decide on articles you can use Pocket, a free service which allows you to save articles for reading later. You can keep your queue of articles ready so you know what to expect when you pick up that list in the morning.
Even in the story above the username was so random that it wasn’t even spelled correctly. You fall for these triggers not because they are important but because they are part of a habit. The services you use too frequently become part of your habits, so the urge to check when someone likes your post is difficult to resist. These habits are so deeply rooted into your behavior that you need to be more mindful of what action you are about to take and at what cost. While the number of likes is just a number and there is nothing much associated with it, you care about it because it is a form of social validation. You add emotional value to those number of likes. You want more people to like what you post because it triggers dopamine and gives you the feeling of social acceptance. This works the same for most of the virtual social networks and you will face a lot of friction in your mind to avoid it.
It is easy to fall into this loop of automatic habits that don’t require much of your effort. But you also need to understand that these distractions are always there and you need to mindfully keep them away for different pockets of your day. It is difficult to stay away when everyone is active, so keeping aside time in the morning is the best bet. If you wake up at a time where you find yourself sucked into these interactions with your network already active, try waking up 15-30 mins earlier.
These extra minutes to your day will give you a feeling of accomplishment and more than that some time for yourself. It might seem a little difficult to start with, but putting in that extra effort is worth a great day. There will be days where you will not feel like doing it, skip it, don’t be too harsh on yourself. Just make sure that these skip days are not happening consecutively and too often. A good day is waiting for you, just make sure you start it well.