New Pause

New Pause

I’m starting to use my phone as a super simple and super effective nudge toward having better days.

How many times a day do you engage with your phone? Do you have even the slightest idea? I didn’t, really, until I started consciously counting them.

It’s frightening and shocking. I’m averaging at least 10x per hour of wakefulness. So say I’m awake for 16 hours a day — that’s a minimum of 160 interactions with my phone.

Most of those are checking for communication via sms and email; a smaller number goes toward web searches, reading Twitter, reading the NY Times and New Yorker, checking health data on my Oura ring, shopping for something Daphne or Breakaway Matcha needs …

So, I thought, maybe I could associate, or “piggyback” a desirable action to all those engagements with my phone.

This is the pause button. Or rather, a new way to press the pause button.

I attempt to muster enough presence of mind to briefly pause when I reach for the phone. Pause and do what? Nothing really, just breathe mostly. It’s really just a simple relaxation into the moment.

I’m secure in the knowledge that, whenever I’m reaching for the phone, I surely have a few seconds — and sometimes even a few minutes — to both notice and relax into my present state, whatever that is; I might be anxious about something, watching the clock closely for some event to happen. I might be experiencing some minor physical pain of some kind. I might feel hunger pangs. I might even be feeling joyful — it’s always nice to notice that and relax into that joy.

So I now have this built-in mechanism to 160x my mindful minutes, interspersed throughout the day. Gaming the phone in this way has been really eye-opening, and immensely helpful to my daily meditation practice. I hope you’ll try it.

If anyone has any similarly useful piggybacking hacks (building or attaching a new habit onto an existing one), please share them!

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