Thursday, January 10, 2019
At my law school, we're in the midst of the first week of classes after the long break. It seems like there's no time to pause. Everyone's busy and bustling; places to go and people to see. In fact, sometimes I wonder if we are moving so fast that we might be missing out in one of the best things in life - the present.
That's when I got a bit of startle while reading the newspaper. It seems that there's value in staring the day-off slowly, without the frantic rush. According to a Norwegian think tank (as referenced in a newspaper article this past week), "staring the day with intentional slowness helps spark creative thinking," and that's something I sorely need, especially as an educator. E. Byron, "Wellness: What's the Rush? The Power of Slow Mornings," The Wall Street Journal, January 9, 2019, A22.
Unfortunately, too often, I start my day with my phone, checking email. And, let me be frank. With apologies to my email senders, I've never yet received any creative impulses or stirring messages from my dash to check my email at the start of each day. Instead, it seems like starting with email has left me chasing circles, getting nowhere fast. It's not that emails are not important; it's that emails should not dictate my priorities. People should.
Nevertheless, I seem to have this overwhelming habit to have to check my phone. And, apparently, I'm not alone. According to the same article, "[M]ore than 60% of [people] say that they look at their phone within 15 minutes of waking and check their phones about 52 times a day." Id. That sure seems like a lot...and a lot of wasteful checking, too.
So, here's some ideas to help you (and me) get our days started out strong. First, don't dare sleep with your phone. Rather, put it far away from you. Indeed, use an old-fashioned alarm clock to wake up in the morning, instead of putting your phone within arm's reach right at the beginning of your day. Second, turn it off. That's right. You be the pilot of your phone; take command. Let your phone work for you. You decide when it's time to turn on your phone to check your email, text messages, or social media accounts. Third, relax. Take deep breathes. Appreciate life. Take the opportunity at the beginning of the day to express gratitude. In short, start the day right by living in the present, fully alive and fully present. In my own case, that means that I'm choosing to turn out much of the noise in my life. And, interestingly, that's leading to more productive days, less fretting, more creative teaching ideas, increased opportunities for spontaneity in learning with my students, more time to listen to and be present with others, and just in general enjoy the moment. So, here's to starting out slower each day as the key to actually getting more done.
P.S. For more information about how smart phones impact our cognitive lives as learners, our emotional well-being, and even our biological and physiological selves, please see an article that I recently wrote based on a previous blog: http://www.dbadocket.org/wellness-corner-smart-phone-dilemma