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Jelle Smeets
Jelle Smeets

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30-day update on fixing my attention deficit

It has been 30 days since I started to fix my attention deficit. In this post, I will take you along in the good, the bad, and the ugly of trying to improve my attention deficit.

The Good

Most of the time that I spent on social media was now blocked. Just 15 minutes per day. Seeing my apps being blocked made me realize how much of my time I have been spending on autopilot. Feeling bored? Open an app.

I evaluated which social media actually brought value to my life. And I considered Instagram to not be one of them. And I decided to remove it from my phone. I almost never used it to see content from my friends and family. As the algorithm was pushing me creators I don't follow. Why spend time on it?

I discovered a plugin for Youtube called Unhook. It removes all recommendations, autoplay, homepage, etc. You can only search for a video and watch it or go to your subscriptions! A great addition to make sure I actually stop watching after my intended video.

Having my social media access shut off after 15 minutes per day made me realize I have a lot of those spare 15/30 minutes. I normally would watch a Youtube video or scroll through social media. But now it opened up an unknown slot of free time!

In my spare moments over the last 30 days, I was able to achieve more than I thought. Here's a summary.

I was able to finally start using some of the Udemy Business courses I wanted to follow. I was able to dive into my interest in personal finance :

  • Follow a course on technical analysis of stocks
  • Read a lot on the concept of Fire.

I tried to make it a habit to not spend time on my phone in bed anymore. I loaded some books on my reader and started reading. I was able to read additional 30-ish minutes per day. If you want to see my read books in real-time, add me on Goodreads. I read:

  • Dune
  • The making of a manager
  • Ikigai (thanks for the recommendation Dennis)
  • Started a re-read of On Writing Well

Stack of books
Blocking social media has opened more time for reading books!

As some of you might have noticed, I was able to write more blogs. I tried to improve my knowledge about keyword research. A high of 5 posts in the month of August. High score! Besides fixing my attention deficit post I wrote:

The Bad

My close relatives primarily use Facebook Messenger as the primary means of communication. It took a while before I discovered that if you use ios screentime to limit Facebook, that includes Messenger. After discovering I let them know if it was something urgent, use WhatsApp or call me.

Another thing I experienced is what I like to call the boredom muscle. At the start of blocking all social media, I became aware of how often I was bored or uncomfortable. Previously, I would open social media and scroll. Now that I face a blocked page, this requires me to confront my boredom.

I can be better at confronting my boredom. A big step forward in living more intentionally is to ask me the question: "Okay I'm bored right now, what is something that I want to do?". At this point, I'm made aware of my bad habits, but I find it challenging to take the step forward.

Guy holding phone
At what point do Social media become an addiction?

The Ugly

At the highlight of my confrontation with my attention deficit, I started to find other ways to get my social media fix. I found myself mindlessly refreshing random apps like Strava. If I got a blocked social media app, I would try to open another one.

This experiment has really made me realize how much of a social media addict I was.

From now on

Fixing my attention deficit was in my eyes a big success. I feel more intentional with my time and have found the time to do several things I lacked the time for. And the best thing? I'm not even missing social media.

I do have a somewhat hate/love relationship with Twitter. I feel I sort of need it for promoting this blog and connecting with like-minded individuals. And honestly is a big part of my idea generation machine. I like Kevon Cheong's approach to making Twitter more intentional. Read about it in his book finding joy in chaos.

I am going to split up social media into two groups. I want to keep using Twitter for a 15-minute max. But the other social media forms can be reduced to <5 minutes.

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Top comments (5)

hummingbird profile image

Love the part of mindlessly refreshing Strava!

I have tried to block social media with Screen Time before as well and I will undoubtedly find a way to bypass the blocks.

Specifically Youtube. I found a way to use media downloaders to catch up on my favorite Vloggers.

The hacker mindset also works against your better self!

smeetsmeister profile image
Jelle Smeets

Glad you liked it!

Thats the downside of being tech savy! All most all blocks can be evaded.

kayis profile image

I'm doing the same right now. Trying to get hold of my attention :D

I tried blocking social media and meme sites, but it made me very uncomfortable, so I opted for reminding me "manually" that I didn't want to scroll too much.

What I noticed after a few weeks, was, I would tend to do more "non-smartphone" activities, but I gravitated to tasks that fit in my small attention span. So, basically: household chores. Guess that's a first step, now my flat is clean, lol.

Next, I did things that took a bit more time, like running or weight lifting or buying groceries. They only take 30-60 minutes, and while lifting I can do different things.

Overall I noticed that I can do longer things no problem, but they need to be interesting, otherwise I will drag them out for longer than required.

Also, a plan is important, when things don't work or I get thrown off course, then it's reeeeally hard to get back on track.

alanish profile image

How you handled the FOMO for the first few weeks?

I always try to limit my social media usage but eventually, FOMO takes me back to the same apps within a few days :(

smeetsmeister profile image
Jelle Smeets

I used the f*ck yes rule. Anyone that did not bring me that feeling I unfollowed. Try to limit it to checking it once per day. Are there really any post that are so urgent they can not wait a day?