Friday, December 18, 2020

Reshaping Your Days for Streaming

In earlier entries, I helped you to remove unnecessary distractions from your routine. I encouraged you to delete unneeded social channels, and cut down on the time you waste doing unimportant tasks which don't further your aspirations. Streaming can take a lot of energy after all, and when you're pulled in a hundred different directions each day by artificially urgent matters on your phone or computer, you might find that when it comes time, you're too tired to go live.


One of the biggest wastes of time however, are tasks you may think are important, but are doled out in an inefficient way. Anyone who's ever worked at an office knows about this paradigm- being called into endless meetings might seem productive on paper to some coordinator, but in practice it just ends up wasting a lot of time, forcing you to work harder to meet deadlines when you're finally released from the conference table. It's easy to identify these meetings as culprits sapping your time- they're huge, dull blocks of hours you have to sit through. But what if there was something else, which wasted a similar chunk of your time, without you even noticing? 

These things can sap your brain.

Did you know that roughly 28% of the average office workday is spent simply reading emails? That's 2.6 hours, gone. What's worse, most of these emails aren't even necessary, and their endless chains could be cut, Gordian Knot-style, by getting on a single phone call. Email is one of the most harmful things to the modern office worker, because it not only saps their time, but it kills their productivity, efficiency, and ultimately their capacity for excellence, without the worker ever even realizing. It's not one big, identifiable thing. It's dozens of little interruptions throughout the day, which add up to a big thing. The proverbial 'death by a thousand cuts.' And this kind of indirect daily sabotage hurts much more than something big and obvious like a meeting. 

What if I told you that during your personal time as well, your spirit is being whittled away, slowly, silently, and just as lethally? In our internet-connected age, we can seek out all conceivable knowledge at a moment's notice. But over the past decade and a half, because this tool-assisted omniscience soon became the status quo, we then started asking that knowledge to seek us. Now, each of us is bombarded every day not just by content we want to see, but content we've signed ourselves up to be shown. Every few minutes, something causes our pockets to vibrate, whether it's a response our recent social media post, a message in a group chat among friends, notifications about content we're subscribed to, or sometimes just random pings from apps we haven't used in a while to remind us they exist. We accept all this as normal, because it's happening to everyone else too. But as we all know by now, just because everyone else does it doesn't mean it's right. This constant haze of faux-activity is one of the largest detriments to the average person's life goals. 


I've warned about the dangers of distractions in several past entries, and I've helped you to cull unneeded social media and other time-wasting apps from your days. But if you don't want to remove anything, is there another way to buy yourself some extra inner peace? What I've found is that we can trick ourselves into accomplishing more productive activities each day without changing which apps we use at all. We just need to alter the way they notify us. 

In the 1890s, Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov was conducting research into the responses of various dogs being fed. During his experiment, he noticed something curious. The dogs would salivate whenever they saw food as expected, but they would also start salivating when they heard the footsteps of the technician who usually brought their food. How could mere footsteps cause a dog to be hungry? So he tried to go even further. The researcher would ring a bell, then give the dog food. When the dog was fed, it was only after hearing this chime. And after a while, the researchers found that the mere sound of a bell would cause the dog to salivate, even when it wasn't time to eat. With this famous experiment, the concept of the 'Pavlovian response' was born. 

Dog? Dog.

Now, we use the term to describe any action which has become unconsciously associated with another seemingly unrelated action in our heads. The biggest Pavlovian response we're all susceptible to is the vibration of a phone. For most of us, we're like wild west gunslingers when we hear or feel our phone go off- grabbing and unlocking them with lightning speed and precision. But statistically, the reason to unlock our phones isn't usually worth it. Typically the notification ends up heralding a single 'like' on a post or a piece of junk mail. I've found that tailoring the frequency of my phone's notifications, even without changing the apps I use, has encouraged better habits. I've disabled buzzes when things happen on Instagram, for instance, and now will only see what's changed the next time I open the app. Instead, I have my calendar app buzz me every time a scheduled stream, podcast recording, behind-the-scenes work session, or any other actual important item is coming up. 

And it really made a difference! My hand was still shooting to my phone when it buzzed, but now it accomplished something that truly furthered my dream- I was more punctual in getting stream work done on time, and I knew more reliably what I was doing each day and when. After seeing these positive results, I began disabling notifications for most things on my phone, unless they were of critical importance to my goals. I realized it made no difference whether I was notified every individual time someone liked my picture, versus just seeing all the past 3 hours' likes in a big batch. But by checking them in batches, I gained a disproportionate amount of mental clarity. Now I know that any time my pocket buzzes, it's actually important. Even though most people usually associate the Pavlovian response with negative outcomes, I was able to harness its power and redirect my modern conditioning toward enhanced productivity. 


So if you want to free up more clarity for your streams but are having a hard time deleting social media accounts, you could instead change the way they notify you. As I mentioned in earlier entries, by responding to constant pings- even if they happen while at work when you're away from your stream setup- you might find that you're mentally exhausted by the time a scheduled showtime rolls around. Try removing the frequency of notifications from things that aren't constructive toward your streaming career, and utilize pings for the calendar I helped you to establish in the entry How to Get in the Habit of Streaming so you're able to better stick to it. By clearing my schedule of these distractions, I've found that I'm much more lucid and less tired. Hopefully by using these techniques, you can easily reshape your days for streaming as well. 

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