On Productivity and Pursuing Goals (Originally posted April 10th, 2018)
The Problem: #
Most of my self-improvement currently comes from physical activities. Side-projects and learning outside of school used to be important but it has fallen by the wayside. I would like to find more of a balance between all kinds of self-improvement and meaningful relaxation.
Seriously pursuing physical training has changed my life for the better in a great number of ways - self-confidence, how I feel on a daily basis, I could list many different things. It has become a consistent hobby I can work towards and further my abilities with and that’s so rewarding in its own right even looking past what it does for the body.
However, where time and energy has been invested in my schooling and physical activities, it has been taken from other avenues of self-improvement. Five years ago, I couldn’t keep myself out of picking up side projects, reading another book, or learning another programming language. While I have worked on things sporadically and read a book here or there, I feel like a different person in terms of improving my knowledge in other areas.
One reason I have become so aware of this is that in the online fitness community, many people push the improvement of the mind along with the body. While this is a great thing, sometimes it becomes daunting to manage relaxation, personal relationships, fitness, school/work, sleep, and all other activities under the rainbow.
So where am I going with this? I’m not really sure. Mindfulness of how I would like to change my habits is a good first step. Sometimes I’m doubtful of being able to improve productivity on learning outside of school while I’m also working on my actual studies and finding time to relax among all of that, but I also realize how much time I waste on what I think of as meaningless relaxation. I’m not even referring to video games or movies, but social media for the most part. Sites with endless feeds have some value to them when looking for something in particular, but going on them out of boredom has been one of the most toxic habits I’ve gotten into.
The Solution? #
I’ve subscribed to minimalist ideals since coming to college and they genuinely have made a difference in my life. One important thing I have applied minimalism to is the minimalism of choice. If I don’t have the choice to engage in a bad habit (example: you can’t browse instagram (easily) if you delete the app), thinking about doing it does no good. The issue comes in when I do get value out of these sites - some conversations I have had on reddit or instagram have been invaluable for broadening my horizons. So what do I do?
As previously mentioned, being mindful of the problem and the solution is a big help. Just asking myself what I’m getting out of something whenever I do it is helpful. Writing about it is good as well, hence this post. Actionable-item-wise, here’s what I’m going to do going forward:
- Hide time-wasting apps from my phone homescreen. Not seeing them is a small difference, but it definitely helps.
- Deleting apps that I truly get no benefit from (I define benefit as something that I’ll remember long-term, not just nod or chuckle at, or be able to apply to my life).
- Unsubscribing from subreddits/pages that I truly get no benefit from.
- Turning off my phone when I am working, so that I can work in more quality discrete blocks of time.
- Relax with things I enjoy more and will remember: shows I have wanted to see, playing video games with friends, reading fun books, spending time with people close to me without meaningless distractions.
After I implement some of those ideas, I’ll have more time to evaluate my ability to work on side-projects and learning. I’ve noticed trying to take too big of a jump (wasting time -> making productive use of time) can be difficult and easy to fail at. I’m going to try making a smaller jump from wasting time with meaningless relaxation, to condensing my work time and making my relaxation more quality. Then the mental energy should be higher and I should be able to more easily invest it in more productive ventures.