Day 16 was to Practice Pausing. In ironic honor of this, I decided to try to write this blog post while listening to a podcast. Couldn't do it. I've never been a good multi-tasker. I'm so bad at it that I suspect anyone who says they can multitask is a liar. Which I suspect is exactly what Catherine would say. So I've proved her point.
Anyway. The idea for Tuesday was to deliberately practice being still. To embrace boredom. She told me to pick a situation when I find myself reaching for my phone to kill some time. As I've said before, this time for me is almost exclusively potty time. And it's a problem. I go in for what ought to be a very simple procedure, and I walk out ten minutes later because I've been sucked into a New Yorker article about the Steele Dossier, and anyone in the vicinity mistakenly thinks I'm suffering from weapons-grade constipation when I've really just had a driveway moment on the toilet.
So I committed to doing it the old-fashioned way. Not by dragging a newspaper into the stall with me. I don't have that kind of self-confidence. By staring at the stall door, or by wondering why the screws on bathroom partitions are always loose even though they use those one-way screws:
And it worked! I mean, I didn't time myself, even though the little scientist in me said that I should. I was in and out of there in no time. Nobody in the office thinks I'm all bound up over the last couple days. Good stuff.
What I didn't experience was any kind of zen moment of really having my brain lock in on something profound. But it's early in this experiment.
Day 17 was to Exercise My Attention Span. This is like weightlifting, but for my brain. Catherine tells me that my newfound phone-free time can be spent doing something as simple as reading (done), something just for the sake of it, like practicing math in my head, or putting focus toward more meaningful tasks. I chose option 3. Yesterday I decided to spend some down time planning out a strategy for a clinic I'm consulting with to incorporate team-based strategies into their routine clinical care. In a ten-minute session, I planned out several steps to get a diabetes educator trained for the clinic, to get the clinic hooked up with their local pharmacy for a collaborative practice agreement around medication adherence, and to track outcomes related to these interventions. I raced to write all the steps and contact information down because I was afraid of forgetting it. But that's okay. The exercise made me feel like a downmarket Cal Newport.