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Mindful : June 2019
THURSDAY Take Stock and Take Action By now, we’ve tracked our phone usage for a few days. Now that we’ve gathered this data, let’s analyze it. 1 LOOK AT THE RESULTS FROM THE TRACKING APP YOU INSTALLED The tracking data may not be entirely accurate, but that’s okay—we’re just trying to get a general sense of how our g uesses match up to reality. How many times per day did you pick up your phone, and how much time did you spend on it? How does this compare to your guesses? What, if anything, surprised you? 2 NOTICE WHAT YOU’VE NOTICED Next, review the list of questions from yester- day and consider what you’ve noticed over the past 24 hours about when and why you typically use your phone. What patterns did you notice? What, if anything, surprised you? 3 CREATE YOUR FIRST SPEED BUMP One of the most effective ways to regain control over our phones is to build speed bumps: small obstacles that force us to slow down. By creating a pause between our impulses and our actions, speed bumps give us the chance to change course if we decide we want to take a different route. This first speed bump is an exercise that I call WWW, which is short for What For, Why Now, and What Else (you might want to consider put- ting “WWW ” on your lock screen as a reminder). WWW: What For, Why Now, and What Else Any time you notice that you are about to reach for your phone, take a second to ask yourself: What For? What are you picking up your phone to do? (For example, to check your email, browse Amazon, order dinner, kill time, and so on.) Why Now? Why are you picking up your phone at this moment? The reason might be practical (I want to take a photo), situational (I’m in the elevator), or emotional (I want a distraction). What Else? What else could you do right now besides check your phone? If you do your Ws, and then decide that you really do want to use your phone right now, that’s totally fine. The point is simply to give yourself a chance to explore your options for that particular moment, so that if and when you turn your attention to your phone, it’s the result of a conscious decision. Identifying your goal ahead of time also pre- vents an impulse to share a photo on social media from devolving into another 30 minutes spent absent-mindedly scrolling through your feed. → How to Ride Out Your Phone Cravings Studies of people trying to quit other addictive habits, such as smoking, have suggested that if we simply acknowl- edge our discomfort without trying to fight against it—in other words, if we ride out the wave—our cravings will even- tually fade on their own. For example, let’s say you catch yourself reaching for your phone. Practicing mindfulness means that instead of trying to fight your urge or criticizing yourself for having it, you simply notice the urge and stay present with it as it unfolds. As it does, you can ask questions about it. What does the craving feel like in your brain and in your body? Why are you having this par ticular urge right now? What reward are you hoping to receive, or what discomfor t are you trying to avoid? What would happen if you reacted to the impulse? What would hap- pen if you did nothing at all? The next time you find your- self tempted to look at your phone, pause instead. Take a breath and just notice the craving. Don’t give in to it, but don’t try to make it go away. Observe it. See what happens. 70 mindful June 2019