At the end of 2020, I've decided to make 2021 a challenging year. I have committed to doing 12 monthly challenges, one for each month. You can see the list of all the challenges here. Below is a summary of the March challenge.
Challenge: No sugar, no news (No sugar is self explanatory. No news means no news websites, no tv (Netflix is fine), no Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram, no Hacker News, no Reddit, etc.)
Why no sugar: Sugar is toxic. Its effects also add up with years. I want to reverse this trend.
Why no news: News consumption is toxic. The value of news is vastly overrated and expires in a matter of days. The time commitment is much greater on a daily basis than we realize. While never consuming news is tempting but not feasible, it's entirely doable for 30 days. Observing the effects of this challenge should be very interesting. I also look forward to learnings and potential changes in behavior in the future.
Challenge completion rate: 100% (31 out of 31)
At the end of each day, I recorded if I have completed the challenge for the day. I also rated how much effort it took on a scale of 1 to 10. While it's subjective, it gives an idea of how hard it was to complete the challenge.
Average effort score: 1.16
Lowest effort score for the month: 1 (26 times)
Highest effort score for the month: 2 (5 times)
It was the easiest challenge up to this point, by far. It turns out it's much easier to stick to "do less of" than to "do more of" type of goals. Or, in this case, "do none of".
Interestingly, resisting the news was harder than resisting sugar. I only thought about sugar a few times and just didn't act on the desire to eat a cookie or a piece of cake.
With news, it was more tricky. Reading news (including all social media) was baked into the day and all the daily activities: when I had a 5-minute break, on the sofa in the evening, waiting for something, on the toilet, etc. Stuffing myself with the news was the default behavior in such cases. I replaced it with reading a book on the Kindle app on my phone. Reaching for the phone was automatic, and it was hard to fight muscle memory, but I just changed the action that comes next: Kindle instead of the endless scroll of doom.
No sugar—yes. See next month's challenge below for more details.
No news—mostly. I re-installed Twitter and Instagram on my phone. I still didn't install Facebook, though, and I intend to keep it that way. I've also limited the time I spend on Hacker News (by about a half) and on Reddit (by about 80%). I'm happy with all the changes, except for Twitter. I get the most value from Twitter (professionally), but I also spend way too much time on it. I went right back to old habits with Twitter. The time I spent reading on my phone in March is shifted back to Twitter in April. I'll have to rein it in.
Challenge: No sugar. Again.
Why: Each month, there was supposed to be one challenge. In March, I've done two. I expected it to be challenging, but it was so easy that I've decided to continue eating no sugar in April, too. It may potentially be a long-lasting, high-impact habit with a positive influence on all aspects of my life. I want to maximize the chance of it happening.
I also want to give my body more time without sugar before doing the blood tests again (all 11 of them) and comparing. Two full months should be long enough, and it will be interesting to see the change.
To be honest, I don't expect anything groundbreaking—all my tests (except one) were already quite good, so there was not much room for improvement, but if it's going to be even slightly better, that's good enough for me.
"Slightly better" multiplied by months and years = compounding effects.