Stop Doomscrolling. Start Studying.
A few tips and tricks to stop doomscrolling right now, and the reason why.
I get it.
More than ever, the online world has been our only portal for connecting with others. It’s where we see our family and friends, where we unwind, and where most of us learn new things. But doomscrolling is a new term I discovered while I was actually doing the act—and it’s likely how you found this very article!
So, I get it, but this is a friendly reminder to get back to doing what you need to do. For me, and a lot of developers, that thing is studying and upskilling.
But hold on, WAIT! We have a PROBLEM!
Whether we want to admit it or not, the problem is that it’s hard to get off whichever social platform you’re fondest of, and convince yourself to go back to your homework.
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok will still be there after you clock in two or three hours of studying. The contrasting side is that two or three hours of doomscrolling will mostly burn up your time, maybe accidentally shoot down your confidence, or make you feel the dreaded “I’m not good enough” feeling. Social media is all about flash, and no failures. If you’ve been following me a while, you know that I’m honest in my truth here, so I’m going to be blunt and honest here.
As much as doomscrolling negatively effects us, we still enjoy ourselves, and we like being online. If we didn’t, then why would we consciously choose to doomscroll? It’s something I asked myself for a long time.
The reality is that enjoying a good meme is more enticing than burying yourself in tutorials and cramming in a language you never touched before.
Sometimes, being online is a way to escape reality. Othertimes, it’s sending a funny meme to a friend. You make each other laugh, and smile, and forget about the chaos going on in this world. So as interesting and fascinating as tech is, majority of the world can bond over a meme. As silly as that sounds, it’s true.
This leads to my next point: as great as they are, memes aren’t going to teach you how to ace that technical exam. Point blank.
On that note, your online friends aren’t responsible for teaching you that either, even if they do offer to help. They can’t study for you.
It all boils down to this — the only person who can make the decision to learn, is you. You are responsible for making the choice to study, and no one else. You can definitely ask for help, and I encourage that you do this with support, but ultimately you make the decision to study or not.
Sometimes that decision can be based on circumstance, so I can’t assume it’s something everyone can do RIGHT this second, nor is it what this article is implying you to do.
This article is helping you identify if you are also experiencing this issue, and sharing tools that can help you. When you’re done reading this, take time to think on what will work for you. Talk it out with a friend, family members, roommates, whoever! It’s ok if you don’t decide right away. Give yourself necessary time.
(Mini back story, scroll down for the TL;DR)
I am the kind of person who likes to meet new people, make genuine connections, and I am a crowd pleaser. Combined with ADHD and anxiety, I was online non-stop. I couldn’t say “no”, and I thought I was doing the right thing by reading and replying to every single comment.
So as you can imagine, I spent a lot of time over-socializing and therefore developing a poor habit of being overly available, and mentally drained.
There were days where I would be on video calls from morning until night. My eyes were sometimes bloodshot from the amount of screen time I had. It was hardest during bootcamp when I was studying, and engaging with folks on Twitter. I would be listening to lectures while simultaneously responding to an overwhelming amount of notifications. As a newer developer, this was not good.
I should add: My passion for web development made studying enjoyable (and to be honest exciting). But again, let’s be real with each other. Passion or not, it is hard to stay motivated when you are inside your home, for MONTHS on end, merely seeking guidance and human connection. At the end of the day, we’re only human.
TL;DR: I was addicted to online networking.
So the big question: how do you get yourself into the studying mindset when the networking NEVER stops?
Sometimes the reliable “Just Do It” is thrown your way, but it’s not that easy for everyone to get up and “do it”. Everyone learns through means that work for them, and some folks require additional supports.
Now here is what I discovered worked for me, and what I can offer you today.
I knew this problem wasn’t going to magically fix itself, and I had to make a choice. Do I keep on doing my social media thing, or do I accept that I need to be more proactive in my studying? I chose the right (and frankly easy) decision : to focus on studying and progressing as a developer.
Through trial and error, I discovered new tools that I used daily to see what worked, and what didn’t work. Below are my favourite tools, and how I use them to stay on track everyday:
Tiimo is a “visual daily planner”, otherwise known as a scheduling app. It is a paid service, but the yearly cost is reasonably priced ($25 CAD/year). It was created in mind of neurodivergent folks to help them stay on track. This means people like me with ADHD, or someone on the autism spectrum could really benefit from the simplicity of the app. You can do a 2 week trial to see how it works for you, and you can use the mobile or the desktop version. (I use the mobile version mostly)
How it works:
1) Create “activities” or use the pre-made Tiimo activities (ex: “Lunch”, “Stretching”, “Studying”, or “Brushing Teeth”)
2) Map out your day (or week)
3) If you feel like you’ll be repeating a day, make it a * “routine” in these steps: (*a routine could be a process that you want to repeat. Some examples: a whole day, a workout process, or a morning routine)
- Individually select the activities that are placed on your schedule. They should be highlighted grey.
- Select the “routines” tab on the right side bar.
- Click the button “Create new routine”
- Give a title to your routine (ex. My Study Routine, or My Daily Routine) and save it by clicking the “Create routine” button.
- Click on the blue “ + “ circular button. A slide up menu will appear.
- Select “Routines”
- On the top right corner, you will see a blue button titled “Create routine”. Click on the “Create routine” button.
- Next you will see your activities, and can select or deselect activities that you would like to make into a routine. When you are done, select the blue “Save routine” button located at the bottom right.
- A prompt will ask you to fill in a name for the routine. After you give it a title, select “Create routine” for the routine to save.
This is incredibly helpful if you’re trying to start, or maintain a routine. If you want to follow a certain routine, for example, a “Weekend Routine”, you can simply drag and drop your saved routine into your schedule! Just like that, it’s ready to go!
For me, I wanted to get more serious about working out, reading, and studying. This is called my “Daily Routine”. Some days, I wake up later than my daily, so I created a routine similar to my “Daily Routine” and titled it “Late Start Daily Routine”. It really helps set me up for success and allows wiggle room between activities.
- Colourful icons: You can choose what icons and background colour it has. Makes me think about my schedule more, and I like that it’s customizable.
- Descriptive Activities: You can prep your activities by adding comments that are specific to what you need to do. Example: plan your meals in advance by writing down what you want to eat the day before, or write specific subjects or lessons that you’re studying. This process makes your day a lot more automatic. You’ll have room to do so much more with all the time you save.
- Current activity progress bar: On the mobile version I can see how far along I am for my “current activity”.
- More on activity progress bars: If you finish an activity early, you can “end early” and either start the next activity. You can also choose to give yourself some extra time to do anything you want in-between.
- The routines: the routines have been AMAZING! I have a daily routine, a weekend routine and I even set up a routine called a “burnout” routine. Burnout days are inevitable, so if I have a bad mental health day and need to recover, I am following some sort of structure to my day to make sure I am taking care of myself, and recovering. That way, I’m supporting myself instead of diving into unhealthy coping mechanisms.
- The notifications don’t always go through: This is problematic because as someone with ADHD, I hyper focus on my tasks and sometimes I forget to do something that was planned out (and by the time I realize it’s too late). This unfortunately has happened often, and for a paid service, I would expect this to work. Thankfully, I am thinking about my schedule regularly and find that it works for me! I also have a long term habit of setting up important Google calendar events so I will be notified no matter what. (Always have a backup plan)
Focus To-Do App
Focus To-Do is an app that uses the Pomodoro technique. I downloaded the app to my desktop, and it has worked flawlessly. When I want to focus, I put away my phone, I start the timer (25 minutes), and begin to study. I do not check my phone at all during this time. At 25 minutes, the app will notify me of my 5 minute break. I take this break time seriously because in my experience it is vital to the Pomodoro technique. In that time, I avoid social media as much as I can. Instead of doomscrolling, I stretch, grab some water, maybe a healthy snack, read a book, play a quick game (offline). After the second notification goes off, this means my break has ended and it is time to study again. I prioritize staying hydrated, focused, and the result is a strong study session.
With the help of this tool, it’s truly that simple.
These last tips are short but sweet:
Some of it is obvious, but actually applying it makes a world of difference.
- Accountability Buddy: Get an accountability buddy! Set up goals with them, meet weekly at the same time, and share what you have learned during that time. This can be someone you met online who you trust and have a relationship with, or if you come from a bootcamp or school environment, reach out to your classmate and see if they’re interested.
- Put your phone on DO NOT DISTURB mode, and keep that thing away from you! I know it’s hard, but if your phone is in a spot that you can’t reach with the notifications off, it’s much easier to get your work done.
- Remove the most TEMPTING apps off your phone. For me, that’s Twitter. I removed the app from my home page, and every time I have the itch to check, I open up the wrong app and remind myself to put down the phone and do something else. Whether that's studying, or reading a book, just get away from your phone at that point.
- Remind yourself that you are doing yourself no good by doomscrolling and comparing yourself to others all day. People will share their successes, their wins, their feats. Most people can be happy for someone while equally feeling like they haven’t done enough, which of course can affect your mental health. Try having a STICKY NOTE on your laptop that reminds you to get back to studying, or honouring breaks that you promised yourself. Once those intrusive thoughts break into your head, take a step away from the social media.
- Close all social media desktop tabs, AND turn off your slack / discord notifications. IT. CAN. WAIT. And if someone can’t respect that, you don’t need that kind of energy in your life! The betterment of your mental health and education is so important!
- Stay within your window for studying. Sure, you could go for an extra five hours, but should you? For general studying, no. You want to start small, and build gradually. It’s all about the small steps that help you reach your goals. If you said you’re going to aim for 2 hours of studying per day, let it be that. You’ll have a better understanding of what you’re learning, even if the pace is slower.
That is pretty much it from me! I hope my story and tips help get you away from social media, specifically doomscrolling and get back on track to what is important. This isn’t to say STAY AWAY FROM SOCIAL MEDIA FOREVER. Networking is still important, but EVERYTHING in moderation.
This is the part where I say find me on social media, but, don’t expect me to be on as much as I used to be. At least, that is what I’m working towards. ☺
If you do want to find me: @rothecoder on everything