Changing one habit at a time
By Bala S. — Get free updates of new posts by following me on Twitter
On a good evening I could spend close to 3 hours on the internet (that’s starting at 11pm). Not vaguely browsing or watching numb youtube videos. But scouring the internet for quality write-ups, blog posts on — startups, marketing, growth, vc funding, pod casts, hustlers et all. Everything that goes with it. It’s become such a habit that subconsciously my mind knows what to look for in an article, video or startup story that deserve a place on my bookmark lists.
An hour into any marathon session and my chrome browser starts to feel the heat and some random page stops loading. All the other tabs have only one thing to say, to this new tab —
C’mon man, get used to it. You will be closed if you don’t load.
But that does not stop me from opening new tabs that that contain related content to the content that I was reading (does that make sense!), but I decided that I should not leave anything to chance and open this link in a new tab. This way you see, all the content is ready to be read once I get to the nth tab. Hopefully that would be within this evening, if I get lucky.
Now you might think, why open a new tab when you have so much to read already. This habit I call — ‘Precious tabs that never get closed’ habit. In the heat of the browsing though content that you feel is perfectly aligned to what you are searching, the mind wants to keep track of all the content available on different tabs so it kind of makes an invisible list of content based on the time I actually found them.
So when I am done reading with a tab, the mind will then steer me towards the most compelling content tab that is next on the list. But what the mind does not see in this hurry to curate content is — there’s always a better page with more compelling content and the list topper just got pushed to the number 2 slot.
This then creates a downward spiral of tabs with content waiting to be accessed. Don’t get me wrong — I do sometimes give them a cursory glance and then reaffirm my faith in that tab and say to myself, “I will back!”
By now I have crossed the 2 hour mark and the number of tabs have nearly doubled in number and the favicon have walked up the hills (except the 2 flag bearers, the pinned tabs!).
This is when I realise, I have crossed the line of no return
Now all that remains between me and the curated content is a long list of nameless tabs, but I have somehow lost track of which ones are which. Frustration sets in, the chrome browser has now completely surrendered. It does not make any effort to be faster.
The browser knows that guy on the other side of the screen is back with his evil plans.
Now I quickly glance at the clock on the wall that says half past 12. Maybe thats the reason the number of tabs have quadrupled. Maybe. It’s always late into the night when the tabs go crazy mutant. They always do.
Easily past the 3.5 hour mark. Things are blurry and nameless tabs have formed a wall on top of my screen.
The resistance is here.
Time to close some tabs so I can catch a glimpse of some favicons.
And the whole process starts all over again. The next day is no different.
That weekend my broadband started playing up. That moment when you think — did I pay the bill this month (You for sure know, you paid — because of the dent in your wallet. Broadband can be expensive (in London, UK), when its attached to a landline rental you don’t need and a tv subscription that’s worthless). Anyway.
By early evening the broadband speed was completely off the charts (in a bad way). Resetting the router made no difference. The tabs were smiling.
I called the service provider to see if there was a work scheduled this weekend — there always is. The call center agent explained to me that everything was ok and I need to switch the router off and put it back on again. She did not know that I had done that more than 15 times. If I did that once more the router would have officially switched sides and took sides with the tabs. I was on the phone trying my best to get this sorted, but it was not to be. That evening I was left with no broadband.
I went to bed early. Around 9pm. Felt a bit weird.
Sunday was no different. Constant phone calls with the service provider made no progress and the broadband line was silent for a second day in a row. This is when frustration sets in. By evening I was furious with the service provider and was thinking of terminating the contract.
It’s during these times you start looking for the broadband dongle (mobile broadband) that you bought a few years ago and wish it still worked. I found one, but that did not work. Then I found a really old dongle that showed some promise. The drivers installed well, but the sim card was invalid. When it pours, it f**k*** pours like hell.
Another day without access to internet and I cancelled my contract and launched a complaint. I did not know what the next few days would look like. I went to bed early that day.
Now I was faced with another problem. Who’s the next service provider?
So I went on a comparison website and found that a new player was offering ridiculous speeds over fiber optic. Sounded good and few good reviews later, I signed up. In about 8 days I would have a new broadband line activated and there won’t be a need to get a landline rental. This could not get any better. Or so I thought…
The next few days proved to be tough. Surviving on internet tethered with your iphone is not a great experience when you get constant text messages from the mobile service provider that it would only cost me an extra £6.95 to get a few GB of data. So I kept my internet time to a bare minimum.
Early to bed. And somehow early to rise. These days saw me getting up at 5am or 5:30am on an average. This was new as I hate getting up early. The last time I woke up that early was during my secondary school exams and that was well over 2o yrs ago.
Unknowingly I changed a habit. And waking up early comes with its perks —
- No disturbance from family, pets
- Upto 4 hours of quality time in the morning
- No more rushing to work. You decide when to leave home, not the clock
- A good breakfast
- Time to listen / watch all the missed podcasts / TED talks with no interruption from my wife who would want to watch her favourite Indian channel
- Absolutely insane amount of time to read, which I love!
This list could become endless and hard to manage very quickly if not managed properly. So I looked at things that I had not done for a very long time and were constantly on the back burner. They should be given a chance now that I had more time.
Gym. And that subscription which I was paying for the last few months without ever going to the gym.
Thats it. No. 1 on that list had to be gym — because Startup life is crazy as is, so …
For the first time in many years a few habits changed. Going to bed early, waking up early and getting some quality time to take care of the most important thing that was constantly ignored — Health.
All that hard work, learning, trying to make a difference will make no sense if the years are cut short.
Broadband strength still sucks. But thats ok. Sometimes its better to switch off and look at some simple things that go unnoticed.
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