Paying Attention

Every morning, the first thing many of us do is look at our phone. I’m guilty of it. You probably are too.

Craig Mod took a month’s sabbatical from technology and social media and wrote about his experience. His story is reminiscent of Andrew Sullivan’s essay on his anti-online meditation retreat.

Mod wrote something that really hit home for me:

There is a qualitative and quantitative difference between a day that begins with a little exercise, a book, meditation, a good meal, a thoughtful walk, and the start of a day that begins with a smartphone in bed.

At night, I use my iPhone as an alarm and track my sleep with the Sleep Cycle app. Although, lately I’ve been reading social media before I turn off the light and it’s practically the first thing I do in the morning after turning off the alarm. I’m beginning to feel like that’s not healthy.

I used to unwind my brain before bed with a book. Now, right before I go to bed and the first thing in the morning I read post after post about Donald Trump or some other injustice in the world. Maybe I’m following the wrong people. Maybe I just need to step away from technology.

I’m guilty of not having my attention on the right things. I wonder if it’s because my attention is everywhere else? Keeping my mind on where I am and what I need to do is important. I fail far too often at that and I think social media and technology is partly to blame. So, I’m going to try a few simple rules like these:

  • Get back to reading books in bed and think seriously about reading books on the iPhone more instead of social media.
  • Email is quickly scanned, but nothing addressed until later in the day.
  • Move all social media apps on the iPhone to a folder on the second screen.
  • Turn off nearly all notifications (I need Sleep Cycle and Due).

Let’s see how that works out in a few weeks.