One of my favorite things to do is wake up on Sunday mornings to the New York Times. Invariably, even when I don't have to, I get up really early, even on Sundays. Often, I hear the smack of the heavy Sunday NYT on my garage door. My first stop is always "Modern Love" in the Style Section. Then, Week in Review and Business. In last Sunday's Business section, there was an article called "Trying to Live in the Moment (and Not on the Phone)."
The article talked about how unconsciously we check our phones. It's, like so many other things, a habit. For me it's a bad one. The article gave suggestions for a few smart phone apps that track how many times you check your phone. One sounded really great but it was $4.99. I went for the free one, Checky. The first day I had Checky on my phone, I was mildly conscious when I checked it, but I wasn't actively trying to restrict my use. At the end of the day, Checky told me that I had checked my phone 43 times. Holy shit! That's borderline embarrassing.
The next day I made an effort to only check my phone when I really needed to (when do we ever really need to?) I dropped my opens to 20. I was really shocked that I had 23 unnecessary openings the day before. What was I doing? Was I even conscious of using my phone or were my fingers just used to pushing that small round button that lights up my screen?
It's not unlike habits anywhere else, like the Yoga room. When we are in the practice room, we are adjusting to a new environment. No phone, no computer, no chit chat with your neighbor. But, in place of those other things, and the habits the accompany those activities, we create new ones. We adjust the undetectable wrinkle in our towel. We move our water bottle to that perfect place. We blow our nose, even when it's not running.
Changing any habit is really challenging-- which means it can be kind of fun. Right now as I type this, my phone is sitting beside me. I am resisting looking at it because I want my opens score to be lower than yesterday. And in not pushing that button, in not succumbing to that urge, that habit, I am focusing my energy elsewhere. I am writing my blog, an activity that I don't do as much as I want to. I am listening to my favorite soundtrack (Les Miserables) and I am focused on focusing!
It's the same in the Yoga room or in the kitchen or in your child's room at night when you are having a end of the day chit chat or ten-minute focused reading date. Whether your phone is close to you or not, don't go there. Don't push the button to see your texts or think about what's happening next. Resist. Challenge yourself. It feels pretty good. I'm done with this blog. Now I get to check my phone. 17 opens today! VICTORY!