Our devices aren’t going anywhere; they are a permanent part of the modern world. Still, that doesn’t mean distraction has to be.
During our trip to The Netherlands, my iPhone use increased. This made sense because I used my phone for directions, to take photos, and to stay connected with friends in The Netherlands. However, as I got back into my daily routine at home, my old twitch to constantly check Instagram and text messages reemerged.
Thankfully, I pre-ordered Manoush Zomorodi’s new book, Bored and Brilliant, and it arrived shortly after we returned from vacation. I devoured Zomorodi’s book in three days, and I’m currently working my way through the Bored and Brilliant challenges.
First, I downloaded an app called Moment. Moment tracks the amount of time I spend on my smartphone and which apps I use the most. The numbers weren’t what I expected. On average, I spent two hours a day on my phone last week, and I picked it up every 22 minutes! At least I took a break from my phone while I slept.
There is one data point that I’m happy about—the amount of time I spend talking on the phone grew. On average, I spend an hour every day chatting on the phone, and that activity makes me happy. I enjoy receiving text messages, but if I’m going to have an in-depth conversation, I’d rather do that on the phone or in person.
Other than tracking how I spend my time on my phone, I started keeping my phone in my purse. When I’m struggling with writing, I don’t want to see my phone because I’m tempted to pick it up and check Instagram. I need to learn—yet again—how to lean into creative discomfort.
Also, leaning into discomfort meant that my phone needed to stop vibrating. I don’t receive non-vital notifications on my phone. However, my phone still vibrated when an incoming call or text message came through, and that was annoying and distracting. Now, my phone is on silent and in my purse when I’m working. Also, only close friends and family can get through the emergency bypass setting on my phone. These folks also have specific ringtones.
Dr. Alex Soojung-Kim Pang—a tech forecaster, author, and scholar—said, “distraction is a choice.” Every time I pick up my phone, I keep that sentiment in mind. For example, I enjoy connecting with readers and other artists on social media. On the other hand, overindulging in social media, and using it to procrastinate, makes me feel awful. I don’t want to feel bad. Instead, I want to feel good, grounded, and inspired to do deep work.
If you’re struggling with the amount of time you spend online, I highly recommend reading Bored and Brilliant. Also, doing a time audit or downloading the Moment app is a helpful option, too.