Friday, May 8, 2020

The Distraction (curtailment) box

While I have stayed off social media for a long while now, my smartphone addiction is still an intriguing bit that I am unable to comprehend. Since the beginning of this year, I have been on a quest to understand this compulsory need to involuntarily check my mobile phone several times a day. It started with the download of an innocuous looking wallpaper from the Google Store called the "Unlock clock". All it really does is - show a count of how many times I "unlocked" my phone since the start of the day. It was scary at first to see that I checked my smartphone 60-80 times a day on a typical workday and it went down to 30-50 times a day on most weekends.

Subsequently I chanced upon a book titled "The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-tech World" and it jolted me back to reality. I realized that I am addicted to "information seeking" and subconsciously seeking out new information every few minutes from the easily accessible Internet and WhatsApp on my phone. Besides wasting my time on unnecessary information, I was also losing out on getting bored. So I came up with this rather simple idea. I went to Muji, bought a random plastic box with holes for handles on both sides. Now, I keep my phone in the box when I am at home. I call it my "Distraction Box" and I keep it far away from my living room and my Work from Home room. The advantage? I don't subconsciously check my phone anymore. Every time I am tempted to casually check my phone, I have to go through the special effort of going to the room where the box is kept, opening it and taking the phone out. This entire act, actually motivates me not to check my phone unnecessarily.

Distraction Box

Now, I just go occasionally (8-10 times a day) and read all the WhatsApp messages I have received, reply to them, put the phone back in the box and get on with my life. If I do get a phone call, the phone is always connected to my Bluetooth and I can still take the call.

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