Start cycling (no not the sport)



September 2020

In most areas of life, we need cycles. Grow then decline. Over and over. The stock market cycles between highs and lows. Our bodies need to be broken down before getting stronger. Yet I find it hard to implement cycles in my life when it comes to working. I usually work as hard as possible until I burn out, then I spend an entire week or two doing nothing but binging shows and movies. It feels horrible, and I know for a fact that it's not optimal, yet I still do it.

A pretty simple solution is to just take a day off, yet that's easier said than done (at least for me). My brain talks to me like this: "You better be doing something productive for every waking hour, and if you don't, I'm going to spend any free time you have making you miserable by reminding you why you shouldn't be relaxing. That way, you'll never feel calm." Stupid brain.

There are two reasons for this:

  1. I'm at the stage in my life where I'm trying to build credibility, so calmly working toward my goals feels inefficient.
  2. Overstimulation. I'm basically on the internet for 10-13 hours each day. What I do varies, but I multitask and work on many different things at once. It's so easy to be overstimulated because there are so many things you can do on your laptop and phone. Check email then check stocks then check notifications then respond to everyone then check social media then work on one project then switch over to another, etc etc. That keeps us in a sense of urgency at all times, and once we get used to that feeling, trying to relax makes us feel weird.

The current salve is distracting my brain with instant gratification: watching shows and Youtube on my breaks, or scrolling through Reddit and Twitter. Instant gratification is fine once in a while, but it's not fulfilling or something I actually want to do. They calm my brain from nagging me. When I try other things that are less about instant gratification and more about learning, it gives my brain time to remind myself that I'm not being productive. Here are some activities I would rather be doing:

  • Reading more
  • Learning a new subject or skill
  • Drawing
  • Binging interesting podcasts
  • Building fun projects for myself without trying to monetize

The new cycle I want to implement is a 4-day sprint, then an entire day off. This way, it'll be more relaxing yet useful, and it'll give me a pause from the barrage of aggressive thoughts I typically have. The obstacle with doing this is even if I know it's a day for me to relax, I'll still have those thoughts about why I'm not accomplishing my tasks. Like I said before, these activities don't activate dopamine instantly. So I have to find ways to get my brain to stop telling me that I'm being unproductive. Honestly, I'm not entirely sure how to go about this, but here are some ideas I'll try out:

  • Shut off phone and laptop (limited tech day) -- This helps with the overstimulation problem. It may take a few tries to feel normal, but I'm sure that de-stimulating my brain will help me not feel rushed 24/7.
  • Constantly remind myself that this will help me actually make me more productive. I'll put a sticky note or reminder to tell myself that it's actually useful.
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by Amaan