How to break up with your phone, Double Arrow Metabolism edition: Day 15

Welcome to week three, Reclaiming Your Brain!


This week is all about "mindfulness." You know, the technique that doesn't seem to help with weight loss? But this week isn't about weight loss, its about getting my attention span back.

Yesterday, Day 15, was my day to Stop, Breathe and Be. Catherine tells me the idea is to remind myself to pause before I reach for my phone. I'm to stop what I'm doing, take a slow deep breath, and tune into the details of my experience at that moment. This could mean taking note of the physical sensations my body is experiencing, or it could mean looking at my fellow human beings, or it could mean noticing my thoughts. It doesn't mean checking my phone calendar for the eleventh time that day.

What I found with my two Stops, Breathes, and Ams, was that I most frequently reach for my phone when I need to take a note. Since writing may lead to better memory formation than typing, carrying a pen and a scrap of paper seems like a good strategy moving forward. 

And I almost forgot: I was supposed to by an alarm clock several days ago. But my inner Money Mustache took over, and I couldn't bring myself to spend the money. Lucky for me, my wife dug this baby out of a drawer, and two new AAA batteries later, I'm rocking like it's 1999:

Probably only doctors can afford a bedstand as sweet as this one. 

Probably only doctors can afford a bedstand as sweet as this one. 

My first night with it had some hiccups. My son had a nightmare and kicked me out of bed at about 2 am, so I had to lug the clock to the guest room with me. But when it went off this morning, it was a rush of nostalgia straight to the brainstem. That almost mechanical beeping took me straight back to residency. I was up for good at 5:45. Did I ride my bike like I'd planned? But I did read Joan Didion, and that's a pretty good way to start the day. 

How to break up with your phone, Double Arrow Metabolism edition: Days Six and Seven

Saturday's (Come back to [real] life) assignment: Get back in touch with what makes me happy in my offscreen life. I'm asked to complete an exercise:

  • I've always loved to...ride my bike
  • I've always wanted to...publish something non-academic
  • When I was a kid, I was fascinated by...reptiles
  • If I had more time, I would like to...write more
  • Some activities that I know put me into flow are...none. Ever. Don't get me started.
  • People I would like to spend more time with include...friends from college

I'm supposed to make a list of specific fun, off-phone things to do in the next few days. Here goes:

  1. Visit the Monet to Matisse exhibit at the Wichita Art Museum
  2. Volunteer for Bike Walk Wichita
  3. Meal plan for the week
  4. Ride my bike every day
  5. Visit the herpetarium at the Sedgwick County Zoo

Sunday's (Get physical) assignment: Make some time to get back in touch with your body by doing something physical and enjoyable. I plan to commute by bike to my volunteer activity with Bike Walk Wichita today. Two birds, one stone.

The second assignment is to buy an alarm clock so as to more effectively banish my smartphone from my bedroom. I've been thinking about doing this for a while. My trusty, rusty old clock radio from college has been commandeered by my daughter, so now when I wake up in the night I can't tell what time it is without looking at my phone. My beloved George Nelson clock is hard enough to read during the day:


I'm not super-pumped about the style of the normally reliable Wirecutter's top pick, so I'll add "shop in-person for a clock radio" to my list of non-phone activities for the weekend.