A place to keep track of tests (read: experiments) I run on myself. Methods are not necessarily rigorous.


Digital Declutter

From Cal Newport's Digital Minimalism:

Put aside a thirty-day period during which you will take a break from optional technologies in your life. During this thirty-day break, explore and rediscover activities and behaviors that you find satisfying and meaningful. At the end of the break, reintroduce optional technologies into your life, starting from a blank slate. For each technology you reintroduce, determine what value it serves in your life and how specifically you will use it so as to maximize this value.

Technologies and their plans:

Limiting Distracting Websites

I often find myself mindlessly browsing Reddit and YouTube with no real purpose. YouTube is my most common activity while eating, I instictually go to Reddit while waiting for something or someone, I log on to Facebook to check a specific post and inadvertently end up staying on for double-digit minutes. While these sites absolutely do provide some value to me, a friend and I came to the conclusion that the negatives it brings to my life are much greater (read: worse) than the positives.

Obviously not all free time should be spent "productively"—burnout is inevitable when going down that path. But modern-day "relaxing" is now associated with some type of screen time (phone, laptop, TV) and is rarely something non-digital. And those activities can be valuable! I've learned a significant amount from Reddit and YouTube, but that's a minor percentage of total content consumed, and even with those valuable posts/videos comes additional bad habits. The question then becomes what my friend and I answered: do the positives of [distracting website] outweigh the negatives?

My plan is to abstain from Reddit, YouTube, and Facebook almost entirely* for one week (02-09 July 2022). *Almost entirely meaning if I absolutely must watch/look at something, I will. For example, I often use the Google function of "[search] site:reddit.com" for better answers. I have enough self-control to be fair and reasonable about this.

Here's what I've done so far:

Some good resources on internet addiction can be found on nosurf.net. Some activities I plan on doing instead of browsing:

I hypothesize I won't necessarily notice the extra free time in the moment, but will notice it based on the output of my various activities. I had a similar situation in school when I took the bus to campus vs. drove myself: the amount of books I read dropped drastically once I started driving (because I would read 20-40 pages while on a round-trip bus ride).

See also:


This was much easier than expected. I did not touch YouTube nor Reddit for the entire week (except when absolutely necessary), nor did I necessarily feel a draw to either. The most difficult part was erasing the two biggest habits of surfing while eating and surfing while waiting. I filled this time with reading bookmarks from my "Read Later" folder.

I will continue to practice no surfing. I've installed Cold Turkey on my laptop which works in conjunction with Apple's Screen Time. Again, I don't feel any uncontrollable urge to visit these distracting sites, but getting a message allows me to rethink what I'm about to do, which is what's really needed.

And one extra addendum: while browsing r/NoSurf, a few people brought up the excellent points that boiled down to "there's so much to life, why are you spending it on the internet?". This greatly resonated and I think was part of the impetus that made this cold turkey action happen.


I am known as a fast eater among my friends and am generally the first to finish my meal. I seem to be perpetually hungry. I am rarely truly full after a meal, even if the servings are large. I notice my stomach feels poorly after eating meals, but I have not looked for a correlation for which meals. Finally, I don't spend too much time chewing my food.

It appears that chewing more can help to solve my problems. Chewing more forces me to eat slower, allows my body to suppress hunger, and breaks the food down into easier-to-handle pieces for my digestive system.

Supporting evidence:

From 01-30 June 2021, I will chew each substantial bite until the food is essentially liquid in my mouth. I will report back on how full I feel throughout each day and how my digestive system feels after meals.


I found that I was more full after meals and my digestive system rarely had the same issues. I will continue to chew my food thoroughly.

Waking Up at the Same Time Every Day

While in university, I woke up consistently at 5:00am Monday through Saturday, regardless of my (pretty consistent) bedtime. There were slip-ups, of course, but rarely. Besides the circadian consistency, one factor I think played a role in the easiness of getting up was I had a reason to each day, and one that I was excited for. Be it exercise, work, or doing some personal project, I always had something to work on in the morning. My phone turns to warm mode at least one hour before bed, and I don't use it much in bed.

My life now is quite different. I don't enjoy work nearly as much, I prefer working on personal things in the evening, and my sleep schedule is a bit more wonky, but not by much:

All of this leads to difficulty waking up in the morning, which I don't like. So, for this test I'll be waking up at the same time every morning for 21 days: 4:30am.

This wake-up time will remain constant regardless of what time I go to bed or what I have to do in the morrow. I will attempt to keep both my bedtime and bedtime habits roughly constant. I generally read a non-fiction book for 15-30 min while lying down in bed with a warm-light lamp on. The room itself is 72-75 °F (22-24 °C), quite dark, and does not experience much sound besides muffled voices from my neighbors. I will have my last meal at least two hours before bed and be well-hydrated throughout the day. I will also include notes on exercise intensity and duration.


This was much easier than expected. Yes, there were a couple of slip-ups in wake-up time (01 and 07 February 2021), but the 4:30am was relatively consistent. While I do not have a quantifiable baseline for how I felt before starting this, I felt surprisingly good throughout the 22 days, despite getting amounts of sleep I would balk at. My athletic performance did not seem to suffer. My days felt much longer—I now had an extra two hours in the morning to do whatever I wanted/needed. I could go in to work early and get out early, write, read, watch YouTube videos, etc.

Log of waking up at the same time every day

A few lessons learned/reinforced:

  1. Nine times out of ten I will feel fine after about 10:00 min of waking up, standing up, and being exposed to some type of white light. There was only one time where my grogginess lasted around two hours (it may have also been fueled by learning about purchase requisitions at work...).
  2. Waking up is much easier when there's a purpose for doing so. Waking up just to wake up can lead to rationalization and going back to sleep. My purposes included not wanting to botch this experiments, getting started on work tasks, and writing for this website. Sometimes I just ended up watching YouTube, though.

I will will try to continue to consistently wake up at 4:30am in the future.


I recommend finding a wake-up time that works and sticking to it for 30 days. Keep track of bedtime and quality-of-life after waking up, then decide at the end if it's something worth continuing.

Trigger-Action Plans

See my notes on trigger-action plans (TAP) here. I will define each entry concisely with the goal, trigger, and action, then discuss the actual practice and results of each.

I've also converted all of these into Anki cards in the form of reminders, affirmations, or reinforcers. For example, a card for being present features a recording of me laughing on one side and the words "Be present!" on the other—whenever I hear the laugh, I think of being present. All cards have a maximum review interval of 1 day, so they are reviewed every day. (This idea is discussed in Guzey's Instilling Novel Thought Patterns and Making Your Long-Term Memory Accountable with Anki, which I highly recommend reading and implementing. More on it below.)

Stopping Unconscious Payments

With tap-to-pay being so simple and convenient, I suspect that people purchase more unnecessary items now. I want to take a second to think before I buy something, and while I often do when I put it in my cart, sometimes the question comes up at check out. This TAP will make my question my purchase at checkout.

Getting Out of Bed Faster

My normal wake-up routine involves my first alarm going off, me going back to bed for 5 min, then finally laying in bed for 15 min after the second alarm goes off. The big problem with this is that I've trained my body to become sleepy when I lie horizontally, so by remaining in bed I stay sleepy. After getting up and moving around for a few minutes, I'm completely awake and ready to go. This TAP will streamline the me-becoming-fully-awake process and give me back 20 min of my morning.

I will practice this throughout my waking up at the same time every day test.


This took about 5 times before it became an ingrained/natural behavior. Whenever I hear the alarm go off, I take the covers off, get out of bed, and start with my day. There were some days I only got 4:15 hr sleep (due to my waking up at the same time every day test), but it was just as easy as the other days. Another thing that helps me is keeping up the habit: if I follow a habit and then stop, I tend to rationalize with myself that I don't have to start up again. If I were to lapse in the one-minute rule one day, it would be significantly harder to pick it back up again. See the X effect.

Some suggestions:

Being Present

The past couple of weeks I have been trying to truly enjoy individual moments: driving to work listening to music, riding my Airdyne in my apartment, walking in the nearby park. In doing so, I've found that I get much greater enjoyment and happiness out of focusing on how nice that moment is. However, sometimes it's difficult to remember to focus on this, hence my using a TAP.

I use Anki to help reinforce this. The front of the card says "Be present!" and the back of the card is an audio recording of me laughing.


Novel Thought Patterns

This idea is taken from and discussed in greater detail in Guzey's Instilling Novel Thought Patterns and Making Your Long-Term Memory Accountable with Anki.

Below is a running list of the novel thoughts I am instilling. F: [text] | B: [text/picture] means the front and back of an Anki card. I try to make the text short and easy to remember and the picture of something I regularly see.


These installations worked. As relevant situations come up, I often think these thoughts and act accordingly.

Small TAPs

A few insignificant TAPs I use:

Cutting Sugar

Link to full post.

My experience in mostly abstaining from added sugar for 30 days. Includes the psychology of sugar, lessons learned, and recommendations.

See Also