Intentional Living

February 16th, 2021


46 days until deadline

How funny is it that after I have sworn off YouTube that my school project wants me to analyse it. We had a discussion on YouTube’s design as a MSP ( Multisided Platform) and tried to offer some suggestions for change.

One thing that came up during the discussion is how distinctly entertaining YouTube can be as compared to watching TV shows or films. For films or TV, the way you get catharsis is effectively through tension building up by the creators. That’s why it’s been really hard for me to watch a film ever since I graduated from film school, mostly because to get to the dramatic release, I would have to wait for one to two hours in my busy schedule. When my life is as tense as it is, I just don’t need more tension. On the other hand, I rewatched the entire seven seasons of 30 Rock on my iPad last month during cooking and eating. The 20-minutes-per-episode length is just perfect for such purposes, and you get a much faster rate for release. For certain episodes you get to have three separate subplots to resolve, effectively promising three catharses within 20 minutes. Combined with the very high joke-per-minute ratio, it is just a much more pleasurable experience during a very difficult time. YouTube is even denser. You get to have a hit of happy hormones every few minutes or less. That’s why I had a YouTube problem. That’s why I didn’t even dare to start using TikTok because I know based on my addiction to happy hormones, I could spend hours on that thing if my will isn’t strong enough.

So why did I choose to swear off YouTube? Mostly because it had become an unconscious habit. Every time when I encounter a task that I don’t want to do, my impulse is to open a new tab in Chrome, and many times I would type “you” in the search bar without realizing what I was typing as if my fingers have a muscle memory of their own that is not controlled by my brain. That was scary. So I installed RescueTime to block off distracting websites. That worked for a while. The problem is when I finished work, I would reward myself with YouTube, and another hour of my life would go by without noticing. I just don’t want to continue this unexamined life anymore. So I have sworn off YouTube for any entertainment use (watching tutorials to learn something is of course allowed) until I am done with the two big projects for the first half of 2021. Notice the countdown in my blog? That is for one of the big projects. I shall tell you more once I am finished with it.

Thoughts on quitting YouTube so far? Not that bad. Of course I would still be on it, but I would just add videos I would watch to the watch later playlist instead of watching them, knowing that they won’t be gone. It is actually kind of liberating, no longer being a slave to me desire for a digital fix to make myself feel better. Feeling busy is not enough. Productivity is more important.

I think the best way to measure productivity is to ask yourself a very simple question at the end of every day: Did I get done what I intended to?

– Chris Bailey, The Productivity Project

Intention is key here. Are you reacting to the demands of the day, or do you plan ahead with intentions?

Nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.

– Peter Drucker

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