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Flow Class Activity: Designate Device-Free Time

Just because we can take a laptop into the bathroom does not mean that this is a sensible thing to do. (Fecal matter can be found on one in six cell phones. Need I note that this is disgusting?) Similarly, your bed is for sleeping, not for checking Facebook, even though you can. Neither is it safe to text in the car, while driving yourself, nor is it polite if you’re a passenger in a car if the driver is a friend or someone expecting conversation.

Tempted to check your email at a red light? Turn your attention to your breath and just breathe: you will gain more in productivity and well-being from the one-minute relaxation. Remember, boredom is not a health hazard, but technology overuse is.

Use this PDF to decide on the times during which you will not EVER use a device. This is a backup plan, for when your strategic checking times slip and become “just one quick check while I wait” (see previous classes in Unit 3 of the Flow Class for more about this).

 Click here to download a worksheet
For example, here are some times in my life when I try hard not to text, be on the phone, email, or check my Facebook feed:

    • During meals. There is nothing so important that it can’t wait twenty minutes, and I don’t want to lose this important downtime (if I’m alone) or time to connect with my friends and family.
    • While someone else is helping me with something, like a clerk in a store.
    • While I’m working, unless I’m working on answering and writing email.
    • After 9:00 p.m. In the evening all my devices automatically switch over to their “do not disturb” setting, and are turned off entirely thirty minutes before I go to bed. Why thirty minutes? Because the low-energy blue light emitted by our tablets and smartphones stimulates chemical messengers in our brains that make us more alert, and it suppresses others (like melatonin) that help us fall asleep.
    • Before breakfast. I’ve found that if I start checking my email first thing in the morning, I derail my carefully constructed morning routine, and I can’t fulfill my first priority, which is to nurture myself.

This post is taken from The Science of Finding Flow, an online course I created as a companion to my book The Sweet Spot: How to Accomplish More by Doing Less.