Be the designer of your world and not merely the consumer of it.James Clear – Atomic Habits
Have you ever experienced this?
One of the reasons that instant-fun (like instant-noodles but even worse for you) like YouTube or Facebook feeds have so much power over us is that we have trouble deciding on how we want to have fun. It’s one reason why the constant feed is so addicting. Instead of choosing to do something, you scroll through an endless supply of instant-fun until you find something appealing, chortle a bit, then continue the search. It’s a weird phenomenon. It’s also horrifying to reflect on.
Would you rather spend 2 hours playing that video game you’ve always wanted to play or 2 hours browsing YouTube? How about 10 minutes? How much of your life do you want to invest in surfing for the next sensible chuckle? I almost uniformly choose the former and do the latter. Ugh.
There are more than a few ways to get through this (See: Deep Work or Indistractable), but I wanted to highlight a specific technique called Scheduling. Scheduling is simple and self-explanatory – the end. >Σ Jokes aside, Scheduling is precisely what it usually is – choosing to do something at and for a specific time. Scheduling is fantastic because it checks off that critical box of being deliberate.
Being deliberate will help you find something to do because it’ll force you to choose. In one of the least startling turn of events, the act of choosing is spectacularly good at developing decisiveness. Have you ever had the “What’s for dinner?” conversation? It’s infuriating. I’m infuriated just thinking about typing it out.
"What do you want for dinner?"
"I don't care."
"How about <X>?"
"No, Anything but <X>."
"We had <Y> on the same day last year. We can't have <Y>."
Does this seem familiar? It should. It’s the same pattern as “I have nothing to play,” except it’s just you talking to yourself. At least, if you’re neurotic like me, you’re talking to yourself. Actually, all of the conversations in this blog are me talking to myself. Hmm.
Anyway, this dialogue occurs when one or more parties is unable to make a choice. There are at least 4 (hundred, million, billion) reasons why this is happening. However, It’s imperative to choose before the opportunity is lost and “I guess we’re eating fast-food again.” Since it’s crucial to practice choosing, what better choice to make than when, and how to have fun? Force yourself to choose, and you’ll discover the fun you always had inside. Plus, you won’t have to deal with this nonsense anymore.
Scheduling has other benefits, as well. For instance, if you schedule time to play a game, you’ll find that you get excited with anticipation. I won’t go over it in detail here, but anticipation is an incredibly powerful tool that can override your wanton desires to procrastinate.
Lastly, a schedule is an opportunity to practice discipline. The distinct start and stop inherent to a schedule are significant events that you choose to adhere to. By sticking to your schedule, you will have been deliberate about your life and worked on the discipline-muscle-of-self-serving-validation-and-happiness.
Choosing to do something is a lot harder than it should be. There are a lot of distractions, and it’s easy to defer the choice by indulging in instant-fun. However, with a little forward-thinking, we can have fun the way we want to and live a better life. Make a schedule today, for tomorrow. Or for the next 30 minutes. Or for Thursday. Whatever. Be the person you want to be by scheduling the future you want. Now, what am I eating for lunch? >Σ