How often are you on your phone a day? How many times a day do you pick it up? Are you happy with your phone relationship? If you are like me, and you feel like your phone often gets more attention in your life than anything else, you might be interested in signing up for New Tech City’s Bored and Brilliant Project. The first step is to install Moment, the app for iPhone users and BreakFree for Android. This app tracks how often you are on your phone and how many times you pick it up.
Back in January, after a month off work, I decided to participate as the project was launched. The idea is to get you off your phone and spend a little time bored. Without boredom, we have a difficult time being brilliant. With smartphones we are able to keep our minds busy 100% of the time and we are losing the wonderful luxury of being bored. For me, I often check my phone while watching TV, during my break at work, upon waking up and going to bed, sometimes even in the bathroom. I pull it out when I am waiting anywhere and everywhere, even traffic lights. A few times over the past few years I have been successful in letting my phone go for a weekend and always feel renewed, but the habit picks right back up on Monday. I know I don’t need constant information about interesting topics or even other people’s lives all day every day. I know that my mind needs more breaks than I give it. When I read about the Bored and Brilliant Project, I knew I was ready. I was ready to be more than my face planted in a cellphone for hours.
With Bored and Brilliant I received a daily email with a challenge such as a “No picture day.” Several came with a short podcast (LOVE podcasts but have reduced this obsession a lot since 2013.) to motivate me as I got started with my day. They contained little nuggets of information from experts and the lovely host Manoush Zomorodi. The hardest challenge for me was probably removing an app that I use a lot. At first I thought it would be Facebook, but after thinking about it a little more, I decided to remove my Fitbit app. Since upgrading my phone at Christmas, I have been OBSESSED with checking my daily steps. It was amazing how that one little change kept me off my phone for longer periods of time. Overall, the most effective challenge for me was Day 1: As you move from place to place, keep your phone in your pocket. Or better yet, in your bag. I just didn’t realize how often my phone was popping out of my purse while I was in the car with my husband talking to me, or when I was driving alone and stopped at lights. It was crazy. On my way to work in the morning, it can take up to 20 minutes to get two miles as I head to the highway. Generally, I look at my phone as I stop and go. With it in my purse, I noticed a Jeep with a spare tire cover that says, “Life is good.” I see it almost daily now and it is a good reminder to me as I start my day. How many other things am I missing while checking for new text messages…..again.
During the challenge and a few weeks afterwards, I stayed pretty lean on my phone time. However, when my father-in-law passed away this month, I found my time drastically increasing. My phone is constantly out again. Why? I think I use it as a way to escape. It’s a way of filling up my brain with everything except what it really needs – quiet. So, now that all of the craziness has calmed down, I owe it to my brain to have some quiet time, to be bored, and hopefully to be BRILLIANT. I’m going to attempt to finish up this blog post, post-it, attend an online meeting later today, and then close things down. I’m turning off my laptop, reserving my ipad for Downton Abbey, and keeping my phone in my purse throughout the weekend except to check text messages from students and my family. I am also rereading a post I wrote in 2013 on infobesity and plan to take some ideas from it. I’m looking forward to the time away. See you next week.