By Michelle Graff
Michelle-blogThe challenges were: keep your phone in your pocket while in transit (sage advice at any time in New York), delete an app you use a lot (Twitter for me, and I still haven’t added it back), don’t take any pictures all day, post an away message on a group chat, social media account or your email for an entire day, and go somewhere in public to hang out and watch people without staring at your phone. (I didn’t do this one. NYC’s best public spaces are outside, and the temperature that day was around 10 degrees.)

The results for me: I spent 70.1 minutes a day on average on my smartphone between Jan. 15, the day I began using the Moment app to track my usage, and Feb. 2, the day the challenges started.

The days of the challenge, Feb. 3 to Feb. 8, I was on my phone an average of 62.2 minutes, a savings of nearly 10 minutes a day.

Not a bad drop-off, and better than the average participant did in Bored and Brilliant, but I do have a couple confessions to make. Perfect in time for Lent, no?

1) I don’t know if being on my phone less necessarily inspired me to be more creative, to be honest.

I feel like I am just on this non-stop loop where I have too much work to do and I never really get around to finishing any of it. I have an endless to-do list of half-finished or never-started projects. I keep thinking things will get better once I finish this trip or this transition ends, but it just never does.

That being said, I did get a few small projects done around my house, some of which had been lingering for months, and got the wheels turning on a few others.

And, the challenge did make me conscious of how much time a day gets wasted staring at my smartphone, lending insight into why I never feel like I am “caught up.”

We waste a lot of time on our phones without even realizing it. It’s funny, when you think about it. For all the conveniences smartphones offer--deposit a check by just taking a picture of it, turn on the lights in your house and adjust the temperature before you even get home--I would wager that they eat up an equal amount of time, or more, by sucking us into mindless scrolling.

2) I didn’t participate in the bonus weekend challenge, put your phone away for an hour and construct your dream house using only the contents of your wallet.

To be honest, I just didn’t see the point. I don’t keep much in my wallet to work with and, besides, I live in New York. Owning real estate is so impossible here that I don’t really have a “dream home.” I’d be satisfied with a bigger studio apartment.

While the Bored and Brilliant project is officially over, anyone that wants to challenge themselves and/or their staff to see what ideas they can come up with they put down their smartphone and just be for a bit can read all about the project on its homepage. You also can just construct your own series of challenges.

If anybody does institute smartphone rules around their store, I’d be curious to hear how it goes and if it makes any difference. Did anyone come up with any “brilliant” ideas after they were forced to quit scrolling through the store’s Instagram feed and, instead, go somewhere and just sit quietly for 20 minutes?

I don’t think that this is outside the realm of possibility. I once read a list detailing what successful people do at lunch and all of them involved getting out from behind the screen and taking a break for an hour, whether it’s to have lunch with colleagues, read, listen to music or just take a walk.

In short, they let their minds wander. I wonder if they leave their phones behind.

TAGS:   Technology
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