I keep scrolling away. Sometimes, I finally hit the “You’re All Caught Up” sign on Instagram. No worries. I can just click on the explore tab. That’ll show me random pictures from random people. Hard to run out of those.  

 

The scrolling continues. All of a sudden it’s been an hour. Or has it been two? I got lost in all the funny comics and puppies. There’s never enough puppies. 

 

That’s the issue, isn’t it? There’s so much to do and an endless amount of distractions. The goal of companies like Instagram is to keep your attention. There is always more to see. More to scroll. 

 

Now I know that I shouldn’t be just mindlessly scrolling Instagram, but it got me wondering. Are there other parts of my life that I just scroll away? 

 

I saw the endless scroll in a few different places. The todo task that never had an end. Let me look up this. Or let me read the news. 

 

There wasn’t an endpoint. It just kept going and going. There was always more to read. Better research that could be done. The endless scroll was still there. However, instead of guilt, I felt some satisfaction knowing that I was working. 

 

But the endless scroll sucked out the productivity. I was productive for those first few scrolls, sure. After a while, I hit diminishing returns. 

Learning from Books

How I Tamed Endless Scroll

I’m a disorganized man who wished he lived in an ordered world. I love being organized. I hate organizing. It’s hard to say which I care for more. I go through fits of organizing everything. Unfortunately, it never lasts. Entropy always wins. 

 

It always started simple enough. The diminishing returns wouldn’t be hit right away. All that scrolling was for a purpose. Find more articles. Do more reading. There wasn’t a way to stop it while I was still being productive. 

 

So I had to find another way. I’ve had to create some rules to tame my disordered half. This worked just as well against the endless scroll. 

 

I had to give myself a time limit. I would only be able to work on this project for a certain amount of time. Or the research could drag on forever. 

 

One of my favorite reasoning for procrastination was research. It’s easy to keep looking up more information. It’s much harder to get started. Start that blog post. Record that video. 

 

An hour for this. 30 minutes for that. The limits jumpstarted my creativity. Forced me to actually work instead of taking time to warm up. Reading the news really quickly. Or answering a few emails. 

 

Just as important to the time limit was accountability. When the timer went off, I had to stop. Unless I was in a flow state that happens once in a blue moon. I had to stop working and switch to something else. 

The Constraints Helped My Creativity

 

I’ve always found a certain surge of creativity on the last day of a deadline. That inspiration that had escaped me for weeks all came in as a rush.

That last-minute rush didn’t give me much time to edit. Or proofread. 

I would barely have the time to finish my papers before I had to hand it in. Even now, I’d often get blog posts done right before the need to publish. 

The dedicated time for my project gave me a new deadline. Instead of the one right before it was due. I only had an hour to work on it.

After that, I would have to switch to a new project. There are always other projects to work on.  I know it was an artificial deadline, but it worked. Somehow I’d squeeze out some creativity. 

I’d have plenty of time leftover to edit. Editing is the easy part. It takes effort to come up with something new. To fill up an empty page.