I’ve been experimenting the past two weeks with digital minimalism. In sum, I deleted most of the social media apps from my phone and restricted the remaining ones. This past Monday, my wife and I planned a day away together at a park and I decided to try a little experiment.
I didn’t want distractions from work or pretty much anyone else on my mobile while we were at the park. Once we arrived there, I put the phone in my backpack with the ringer off. I knew that when I took the phone out of my bag for the ride home, I wouldn’t want to see all of the emails I missed. If that happened, I’d go from relaxed to tense in three seconds or less. So, I also turned off e-mail notifications.
We walked around a bit and then settled on a bench overlooking a small bay. We chatted a bit and then started to read books we’d brought with us. We spent most of the day reading because the arcade and the ice cream shop we planned to visit were closed.
I realized that I read much more this past Monday than I have in a long time. Typically, if I’m reading, I get a little bored after a bit and then will look at my phone for a while before returning to reading. Ultimately, this leads to my getting little reading done.
This is a problem that many people have; they have lost their tolerance for a little boredom and seek novel stimulation most easily accessed through our phones. Not having my phone at the ready meant that when I felt a desire for additional stimulation, my best option was to refocus myself on reading
I didn’t read the whole day. There were times that I got really bored or sleepy. We do need breaks from time to time. In those cases, I took a walk around the park or we fed peanuts to the park’s squirrels. I strolled the small beach at low tide and found sea glass. Then, I went back and picked up reading again for a half hour or forty minutes.
There are a lot of times in life that we will be doing work that is a bit dull. Work is not a constant flow state. We need to be able to tolerate the boredom so we can focus on important tasks and turn out quality work whether it is for school, our job, or something else we value.