This is a follow up to my previous post, where I intended to put a stop to all digital distractions and focus more on becoming a creator, rather than just be a consumer. I’d concluded that these distractions were stopping me from reaching my full potential and doing what I want.

It’s almost been a month since then. I have some good news and some bad news. Well, mostly bad news, but the good news seems promising, so read on.

Let’s get started with the bad news first.

The Bad News

I wasn’t able to put a complete stop to all digital distractions. As I write this, I have a bazillion tabs open in my browser. I almost never finish reading them. I intend to, but I never do. My mind always wanders to somewhere else after half a minute. Hence, the open new tab loop keeps repeating until I have 6 dozen of them spread across 3 different browser windows.

And then there’s the smartphone, with constant notifications coming in every few minutes. Sometimes it’s work and friends, but most of the time it’s just junk.

I pick up my phone to read a message from a friend, I finish reading or watching it, reply to it, and then 30 minutes later, I’m watching a video about “How to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse” or “Instant Cooking Hacks for Millennials.”

How did I go from reading a simple message from a friend to watching a random video that’s of no use to me?

I’ve continued posting pictures on Instagram, because it lets me explore my creativity. Getting likes and comments makes me feel good (thank you Dopamine). Yes, it’s unnecessary, but I’m not discounting it altogether, not yet. According to The One Project, taking photos and writing about them is a kind of therapy. I’ll consider to stop using Instagram later (I’m conflicted though, after all, this is where I met the love of my life).

I do all my work on the laptop, and I do need the internet to work. How can I be productive if the device that I use to work also makes me wander off into unproductive territories? To mitigate that, I’ve installed a Chrome browser add-on that disables the Facebook newsfeed and replaces it with a simple motivational quote.

Disable the newsfeed and enjoy all the advantages of Facebook without most of its distractions (there’s a hint up there on where I’ll be in a few months)

I cannot tell the number of times I’ve tried to open Facebook unconsciously. Disabling the newsfeed helped me notice that this problem was worse than what I initially thought.

I can still access the newsfeed on my smartphone and I’m planning how to tackle it properly. If I so want to be notified of updates from people or pages I want, I can enable it from their profiles/pages directly.

The Good News

Becoming aware of digital distractions is one thing, but taking steps to tackle them, that’s the crucial part. I’m glad I’m finally doing something about it and I’m happy knowing that.

Cutting down on the newsfeed has helped me spend my time productively on many things. I’ll list them down below:

  • I’ve finally got back to my full-stack web development course on Udemy. I finished the back-end development and APIs sections and am now on to learning databases.
  • I’m more focused, determined and confident at work.
  • I started reading a book (A Tree in Brooklyn). I’m a slow reader and it takes me a lot of time and effort to finish any book. With the time saved on distractions, I can explore reading more.
  • I’ve decided to take a plunge and write a novel (“fiction”, if you’re wondering). I’m not sure how it’s going to shape up, but I’ve started researching and have already collected more than 5 pages of material. I’m excited about its prospects.
  • I have more free time to think about ideas and also write them down. My neglected diary is filled with more words now.
  • Ironically, cutting down on social media has helped me create better and more engaging social media posts.
  • I also wrote this post, didn’t I? That would’ve never happened without cutting down on the distractions.

Ultimately, I think focus and self-discipline are essential to be productive. As for being happy, well, we’ll talk about it later.