My Phone Addiction & The Quiet Timer – AllSwell Creative

My Phone Addiction & The Quiet Timer

Posted by Laura Rubin on

Hey, friend.

How’s your journaling practice going? When I lead workshops I frequently get
questions about how I incorporate journaling into my daily routine. One of my go-to exercises is to set a timer in the morning and put pen to paper. I write continuously, keep the pen moving on the page and get a good flow going. Even when it feels like I have nothing to write, I push through and there’s almost always something on the other side. It might not be Proust but there’s usually a worthy nugget, something of note.

Phone addiction is real. (Don’t believe me? Try out Moment to track your connected time and be prepared to be appalled. ) Reading Adam Alter’s compelling book, “Irresistible – The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked,” inspired a new vigilance. I’ve turned off all those attention-yanking notifications, I put on an “Out of Office” message when I am on the road, etc. I try to limit my access wherever is reasonable in an effort to actually be where I am.

To that end, recently I switched up my morning ritual to make it a little more analog, albeit accidentally. A while ago I spotted a small hourglass in a stationary store in Venice, CA (yes, stationary stores still exist). Fine blue sand runs through the blown glass and it caught my magpie eye. I brought this object home without any specific intent. It sat around for a while, looking lovely but unused.

Then one morning when I sat down to journal and I flipped over the hourglass, using it as an old-school timer. It provided 15 silent minutes sans iPhone and a little revelation.

It’s not without irony that I’ve regarded myself using my phone for meditation (thanks 10% Happier), for providing the soundtrack for my head-clearing runs (thanks Spotify). Even when I’m embarking on good-for-me activities I’m still plugged in. When am I not connected, really? Basically, when I’m unconscious. As in, asleep. No bueno.

I’m not demonizing personal technology. I appreciate knowing via social media what my friends in far off places are up to. I’m grateful to Waze for steering me out of traffic snarls. And I love the immediacy of discovering music via Reverberation Radio. But I don’t want my phone to dominate my life, to run it. So quietly flipping over an hourglass feels like a tiny act of rebellion, reclamation.

Now when I sit down to my morning writing routine I leave my phone in the other room, limiting distractions. No alarm goes off when the time’s up. If I’m still at it, I roll right through the finish line and keep going until the tank is empty and the pages are full.

I’m not about to stop using my calculator app and pick up an abacus any time soon, but this small change feels good. What small shifts are you invoking? Hit me back and share your wisdom. Do it via DM, email, write me a letter or send me a postcard. You choose your medium, just like I chose my hourglass.

In Swellness,

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