For the sake of yourself and your country, it is time to get off your phone.
Yes, I know you needed to see the latest from the Capitol storming, the impeachment hearings, the Republican backlash, and then you’ll need to know how it’s all going down with the new administration in the first 100 days, and then perhaps you’ll want to check in on the stalled Covid-19 vaccination effort. And then poof, before you know it, midterm elections will be ramping up and you’ll need to scroll and scroll and scroll.
But there’s a good reason to balance a civic duty to stay informed with a personal responsibility to protect yourself. According to the online survey company Chartbeat, Americans burned 173 million hours reading about Trump (and other stuff) on their phones over the last four years — more than twice as much time as they spent reading about him on their laptops or desktops. Those same 173 million hours would have been enough time to clean all of our beaches of plastic debris, or tackle any of our myriad personal goals.
How to do this? As I write in my book Goodbye Phone, Hello World, changing your relationship to your phone requires a change in your relationship with your daily life. De-centering your phone won’t cause you to lose money, friendships, “connectedness,” or opportunity. Rather it will be an opportunity for you to take your life back from Big Tech’s agenda and start making rational, sound plans with you in control of your time.
Here are 12 steps you can take right now to begin the process:
Get an alarm clock
The moments between sleeping and waking are the times when we are most in touch with our subconscious, and thus precious for creativity. Protect those tender morning minutes. Have an alarm clock wake you up, so that first thing you are focused on something other than your phone.
Engage with your dreams
Dreams are your window into what Carl Jung called “the night-sea journey,” the pathway to the inner workings of your being. Start a dream journal that you keep next to your bed. Record your dreams in words and images every morning the moment you wake before they dissipate in the morning light.
Choose something other than your phone as a morning practice
In the ancient Sanskrit sacred text The Bhagavad Gita, the God Krishna, incarnated as a charioteer, instructs the young warrior Arjuna on how to live a fulfilling life. He tells Arjuna that the divided mind is an unhappy mind but that “[w]hen a person is devoted to something with complete faith, I unify his faith in that form.” Mastery through practice is faith. By replacing some of your device-divided time with unified time, you begin to lay down your own path.
Take a month to experiment with different practices that could be sustained over time. Is it the piano you once played? The watercolors you’ve always wanted to paint? Try taking 15 minutes of what was your smartphone time and dedicating it to that practice. Evaluate your feelings after each short session. At the end of a month, choose the practice you want to follow and pursue it consistently throughout the next month, increasing the time you spend on that practice by one-minute increments each day as time allows.
Do your morning reading from a physical magazine with in-depth, fact-checked reporting
Many people say they text or email rather than talk because they have come to fear the spontaneity of actual conversation. They fear an awkward silence. But “[i]t is often in the moments when we stumble and hesitate and fall silent that we reveal ourselves to each other,” Sherry Turkle writes in her book Reclaiming Conversation. Choose to be revealed.
Use your phone with intention
Before texting, posting, or making any other public statement, remember Gandhi’s helpful saying: “Speak only if it improves upon silence.”
One of the things that distorts our exercise regimen and attitudes toward our own bodies is an obsessive curating of self-image. Editing images of yourself and posting them online creates unrealizable expectations, especially for young adults.
Limit your self-curation both for your own sake and for the sake of the younger people in your life who are particularly susceptible. Try to go for a given period of time without editing photos of yourself or your loved ones. Examine how you feel after this “self-curation” diet.
Stick with your plans
Smartphones make it easy to waffle; you can always text an apology when you’re running late or bailing on plans entirely. Try to honor your commitments to your intimates. Make a plan and stick to it. Be respectful of the agreed upon time you and your loved one have set aside to be together. Keeping commitments with your intimates is another bedrock of trustworthy relationships.
Protect the night
You’ll get a better night’s sleep if you avoid looking at screens beginning two hours before bed. In your last moments before sleep, write in a journal, meditate, read some lines of poetry, or have an exchange with your partner: a look in the eye, some words. Close your eyes with the expectation of exploring the wealth of your own mind in the morning.
Remember, breaking a phone addiction isn’t easy. Be gentle with yourself. Understand that when you stare into your phone 10,000 programmers’ eyes are staring back at you, monitoring your move, adapting the on-screen environment so that you’ll keep looking and scrolling. Let’s make 2021 the year when we stopped doing that mindlessly.
Let’s take back control of our country, our time, and our minds.
Do you plan being an author? If you do, then you could probably use a tip or two about the whole process of writing and publishing a book.
To give you full disclosure, until now, I never wrote a book. However, I was part of the end-to-end process. Also, I did some research for you and I found this video with tips about writing a book, so I collected them and I’m adding my insights as well.
An introduction creates the first impression. Any introduction. It’s either if you write your post title introduction, or you write the introduction of your book, or even if you go to a random store and you buy bread.
Everyone that gets in contact with you for the first time will have an opinion about you. Of course, this doesn’t mean that it is the correct one. But if you want it to be as accurate as possible, you need to be there and pay attention to it.