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Flow Class Activity: Hide the Bowl of Candy

This is a recommended practice from a series about gaining control of your time, attention and energy in my online course, Science of Finding Flow. Learn more about this activity by checking out Unit 3, Detox, here.

If you were trying to eat less candy, would you carry a bowl of it around with you?

Would you put it on your nightstand and reach into it first thing in the morning? And then carry it with you to the bathroom? And then set it next to you while you try to eat a healthy breakfast? And then put it on your car dashboard as you drive to work? I didn’t think so.

Do you check your email before you get out of bed?

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If you are using your smartphone as an alarm clock, you’re probably tempted to check your messages before you even get out of bed. Is this really the best way to start your day? Maybe it is. Perhaps checking your email is your highest priority, and you have time for it before breakfast. Perhaps working with your head still on the pillow doesn’t disrupt your sleep, and you can actually do good work that way.

If that isn’t you, however, you aren’t alone. Most people do much better work when they put off checking their email until they are actually at work. Here’s an easy solution. Bury your email application on your phone in a folder on a back page. That way, when you turn off your alarm, you won’t see your email icon, and you won’t see how many unread emails you have. This is akin to hiding Halloween candy from your children so they don’t start begging you for a piece first thing in the morning, when they see it. If that strategy doesn’t work (because you are, um, addicted), remove your email from your phone altogether for a few months, or use an old-fashioned alarm clock until you’ve kicked the habit.

Most people do much better work when they put off checking their email until they are actually at work. Click To Tweet

This activity is about keeping that smartphone tucked away until you actually need it.

Think of it as a tool, like a hammer, that you don’t need to pull out until one of your strategically designated times. (If you are a parent, make the adjustments you need to in case there is a call from your child’s school or another kind of emergency.)

Get creative: consider removing email from your phone, or at least moving it to a back “page” of apps, so that you don’t see it if you are turning off your alarm or using another app. Dig up your old-fashioned alarm clock, update your car’s navigation system, and put that digital camera back in your bag for the times when getting a call or text will tempt you even if the sound, vibrate, and all other alerts are off.

Join the Discussion

When and where do you need to “hide” a device so that it isn’t so tempting to check? Do you think putting the phone in the trunk when you drive, for example, or moving your charger out of the kitchen would help? What else?


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. Want to take the course? It’s free! Just click this The Science of Finding Flow tag. Enjoy!