Restless Click Syndrome: A Fable

Restless Click Syndrome: A Fable

One of the reasons for starting a “productivity reboot” was the savage onset of click madness. At various times of the day, I would find myself falling into a haze and clicking on various news and social media sites to see what was new and exciting. I would click down the list, and then at the end of it would start again. One day I noticed that I’d done this three times in a row, and realized that I had a problem. This was mindless junkie clicking! My brain, for some reason fogged, had fallen into hamster-like button-pushing treat-seeking cycle of blahness. And so, I began my productivity reboot to put an end to it.

Last night around 9PM, though, I noticed a recurrence of the behavior. Uh oh. What to do?

At the beginning of my productivity reboot, I had theorized that there was some void in my life or process, some lack of meaningful goal. Perhaps I sought community, but social media is a poor substitute for the real thing. Maybe I didn’t know what I was looking for, but the clicking was easy enough to do and cost seemingly nothing.

After the conclusion of my productivity reboot, I knew that mental stimulation was at the top of my list. I want my work to be meaningful AND stimulating…it seems so simple. In this, I think I’ve found a promising thread that will eventually align my energies with my goals, resulting in productive progress toward the creative independence that I desire. In the meantime, though, there was this pesky mindless clicking. Apparently my new insights had not removed the impulse.

I remembered my freshly-posted occupy uncertainty habit, and decided to apply it to the restless clicking. It was difficult, as I was already in the brain fog, but I could open myself up to the emotions that were there: there was a kind of low level, zombie-like urge for something interesting. It called to mind the image of a butane lighter that was out of gas, being flicked over and over again in useless-yet-hopeful sparking. It also reminded me of small children who didn’t want to go to sleep despite being tired, because they didn’t want to miss anything; the longer they could stay up, the more fun they imagined they could be having. Sleep is boring!

Both visions shared a desire: some kind of stimulation or excitement. Why not go and do something, then? I felt no opposing negativity, and I identified one or two things I could do, but my brain remained very foggy.

Perhaps I actually just needed to go to sleep. Sleeping would be better than all this stupid clicking that ultimately yields nothing. I’d drained the day of its most juicy news already, and was squeezing the dried-out husk for no reason at all. Sleep might be boring, but it would be restorative.

And so I went to sleep, slept well, and actually woke up early. Pounded out this blog post, even. The day beckons!

My theory now is that when my mind is so tired that I fall into the clicking behavior, it’s time to re-energize. There are three ways I can think of that might work, depending on the time of day, prioritized as follows:

  • Go to the gym and do a bit of light cardio. That tends to wake me up. Going for a walk works too.
  • Eat some protein (carbs seem to make me sleepy)
  • Take a power nap / retire for the evening

Already my brain feels a little drained. I have a slight headache. I should eat something and head to Starbucks to do some work, then hit the gym later. There is much to do today! Let’s see how much I can get done before I conk out.


  1. Pat Friel 7 years ago
  2. Rosa 7 years ago

    glad to see im not alone on this. to a certain extent this restless click syndrome can be beneficial. because of constant clicking i know a lot more about the history of smarties candies and traditional Chinese medicine than most people. And that clicking got me to this site this morning! but sadly as i type i am procrastinating from doing more “important/urgent” thing. gotta get back to work now! thanks for all your posts and tools, love your work!

  3. Wayne Trattles 7 years ago


    I get in those clicking cycles. I remember a time when it was about the serendipitous search. Many of the best things I’ve come up with were the result of a google search gone a little bit wrong. Or clicking through links. Finding your printable CEO was the product of a serendipitous search…many years ago.

    However, your description of the restless click is now closer to the mark for me. I’m going to be on the lookout for the signs!