Breaking Up with My Phone: Day 17

Day 17 is all about exercising your attention span.

When we use our cellphones, it can be difficult for our attention span to stay focused on one specific thing for long. Popular videos we watch can be 30 seconds, and then on to the next one. Twitter statuses are 140 characters or less. We have been trained to jump from one thing to the next, and now it’s time to sharpen our focus for the real world.

This will be like any skill: the more you practice sustaining your attention, the better you’ll get at it.

A personal example in my own life is I’ve been watching less videos and reading more books, and not only has my reading become faster, but my focus has become stronger.

1. Walk the Walk, Drop the Talk

This one sounds simple, but can be difficult for some of us who are used to our phones in constant hand. Whether you’re heading to work, going to class, walking in general, try to focus on something and not pick up your phone. You could think about what you have to do for the day, an upcoming project, planning a get together with friends, multiplying numbers, anything that drives your mind and helps keep you focused.

Has anyone had that moment (like me) where you’re walking and thinking about something, you check your phone, and then you forgot what you were thinking about earlier? Let’s stop doing that to ourselves, and enjoy the scenery.

2. Music Bath

Another way to focus on “you” and not your phone is to get comfortable in the tub, close your eyes, and listen to your favorite music. As you listen, try to focus from the lyrics down to every instrument incorporated in each piece. You will be clean, relaxed, and a little more focused than earlier.

When I would take baths (I’m too tall for my current tub and feel like a slinky), I usually listened to slower pieces of music or music without words. Music that would promote healthier breathing and lower my heart rate. Just make you don’t fall asleep in the tub…because I’ve done that once and splashed around like a Freddy glove came out from the water.

3. Books Have Been Around A Long Time

In-print books have been my go-to for leisure and focus, and they could be yours too! Not only can getting lost in a book be a very relaxing and restorative experience, but it’s also exactly the type of mental exercise that strengthens our attention spans and encourages deep and creative thought.

Extracting symbols from what we read requires our brains to maintain focus and block out our surrounding environment. Regular reading causes physical changes to the brain in areas responsible for reasoning, processing visual signals, and even memory.

There are a ton of focus activities you could do: writing in a journal, going to a yoga class, sending a hand written letter to a friend or family member, anything where your phone doesn’t need your undying attention.

One more mini exercise for anyone willing to try that I’m going to drop below:

How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything

This exercise helps keep you focused on one thing at a time. Pick a chore, this could be folding the laundry, washing the dishes, etc. and devote your full attention to that chore. Notice if how you normally get things done compared to putting full attention into one chore/activity at a time changes the way you perform or how you approach other aspects in life.

I did this for brushing my teeth, and not only cleaned my teeth more carefully, but wanted to floss too.

For anyone who celebrates, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all and I wish all of you an amazing day 🙂

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