There are many moments throughout my average day that, lacking print reading material in a previous era, were once occupied by thinking or observing my surroundings: walking or waiting somewhere, riding the subway, lying in bed unable to sleep or before mustering the energy to get up.
Now, though, I often find myself in these situations picking up my phone to check a notification, browse and read the internet, text, use an app or listen to audio (or, on rare occasions, engage in an old-fashioned “telephone call”). The last remaining place I’m guaranteed to be alone with my thoughts is in the shower.
It’s not just during downtime that you’re mindlessly distracting yourself. You’re checking Facebook “just for a minute” a half-dozen times at your desk. You’re catching up on your Pocket reading list when you could be enjoying quality time with your family. You’re reading about a news event and then checking Twitter to see what the hot-takes are.
Avoiding these distractions and refocusing on what matters requires deliberate effort. Turn off notifications on your phone. Disable the “ding” that indicates you have a new email. Log out of Facebook. Delete the apps you hate that you use.