An Honest Attempt At Clearing My Brain Traffic

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Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

I spent the last two weeks trying to force an article that started off as a good idea, but I was extremely unorganized in the execution.

It’s sitting in my drafts right now unpublished and incomplete, though just eyeballing it, it seems to be close to a thousand words.

I knew I was going down a slippery slope, but for some reason I kept forcing myself to throw bullsh*t on a page as if it would make me feel like it’s starting to look okay.

It‘s wasn’t looking okay, so I put an indefinite pause to it.

So I guess now I’ll be writing about why that happened and the psychological backstory.

Bringing Awareness Mental Congestion

Obvious statement is obvious, our brains have a lot to take in nowadays. Just having a smartphone and being connected to the internet makes us vulnerable to all the hooks these brilliant product managers and content creators have incorporated into apps, websites, and content.

I’ll admit I fell victim to the hooks.

I wake up between 4:00 AM and 5:00 AM most mornings for my workouts. I’m not sure how long my fellow crack of dawn gym-goers take to get ready in the morning for their workout, but I was taking an hour.

To me, this seems pretty slow to get ready for a guy who only needs to roll out of bed, put on some gym clothes, fill up his water bottle, and head out.

So what was I doing every morning when I woke up that was taking that extra time??

I was scrolling through social media. It became an automated habit to wake up and go through my Instagram feed and explore page and send people early morning memes. I know, I know, have mercy on me. I’m 27.

After the gym I go home, have breakfast, and go to work.

I have a few things I like to do outside of work that I consider productive hobbies. I care about these deeply. One of these things is becoming a better writer over time and broadcasting it through Medium.

I was doing this consistently until becoming addicted to a game on my iPad.

I would play it for almost 2 hours a day, which could have been spent on writing, reading, or actively learning something I enjoy learning.

On top of eating 2 hour blocks of my day every day, I was so into playing it that I couldn’t really get into a calm enough mind state to focus on writing.

This circles back to the beginning of this post. My execution became unorganized and my writing kinda turned into throwing bullsh*t on a page just to go through the motion of writing.

As I was writing for the last few weeks, I also noticed myself watching more and more YouTube videos. I noticed that as I was writing, I would write one sentence, then watch maybe 20–30 minutes of videos. After spending that half hour on videos I would feel guilty enough to write a paragraph, then get distracted again by more videos.

These bad habits extended my “writing” into hours of the night that wasn’t really suited for someone who was waking up at 4 something in the morning to scroll his social media for the better part of an hour then get ready to work out. Due to lack of good sleep, my focus suffered even more and it started spiraling downwards. Long story short, this became unsustainable, everything suffered, and I knew I had to make drastic changes.

Clearing Out Mental Congestion

So I guess since this is being published the same night that I’ve decided to write it, I’ve gained some of my focus back. I’ve mostly cleared out the congestion in my mind and can process ideas better. I’ve also gotten better at getting sleep.

This is what I’ve done so far —

  1. Uninstalled and replaced Instagram with Threads from Instagram.
    This has allowed me to keep all my private messages and send pictures to friends without the trap of the feed and explore page. Not only does this free up time and mental energy in the morning, I don’t randomly scroll through things during the day that would eat up minutes here and there. Those random instances add up during the day!
  2. I meditate on most days, and am going to do this every day. The specific app I use is Waking Up: A Meditation Course. I’ve used Headspace as well before. This keeps me in the moment and reels me back to reality when I’m thinking too far ahead into the future.
  3. Uninstalled games on my iPad. 2 hours a day and focus automatically returned to me.
  4. Took rest days from the gym when my body was telling me to. I used to push myself when I felt my energy was extremely low. Everyone has a different approach to what should happen here, but I ended up having low effort workouts and too much caffeine which would domino into the next day.

I’m still a little distracted from time to time, but in a much better place than where I was before because of the actionable steps I’ve taken. Half of the battle is acknowledging that the mental congestion is there and being willing to take actions to fix it.

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