“I think it starts with creating a new routine,” she said.
I was talking to my digital storytelling teacher last week. She is stunning to me, tall and willowy and lithe, a lilting South African accent whenever she speaks.
“That’s what I chose to do,” she continued. “I made myself create a new routine. In the mornings, I told myself I wasn’t allowed to check my phone until I had finished my entire cup of coffee. So that’s what I do now.”
We were discussing the tension of technology in class. It’s a class entirely dedicated to learning how to tell stories in the digital world, but I’ve been feeling so tired lately, and I told her I wasn’t sure how to combat this.
On one hand, being a journalism student requires knowing what’s happening in the world. I’m tested on what is current every single week. On the flip side, I’ve been craving a disconnect more than I realized I could.
My storytelling professor, a woman who tends to insert profound sentences into lectures whenever she can, (like, “Set high standards for yourself. When you break that, it’s easier to break it again and again and again,” or, “If you find you are sad for more than two weeks, you need to make sure you talk to someone,” ) said, “I have three pieces of advice. The first is to create a new routine. Choose to actively do something else in the morning before you check your phone.
“The second, put your phone down and look someone in the eyes when you talk to them. Focus on their eyes. What do you see there?
“And the third: when you need to get something done, cut it into chunks. So, if you have an essay to write, tell yourself you’ll write for 20 minutes. Put your phone away in the next room and write for only 20 minutes. Then you can have your phone back for 10 minutes, or however long. And then, put it away, and do that again.”
When I left her class on Thursday, I felt lighter. (As a side note, I hope that’s who I can be for people someday. Someone who, after sitting with them for a few hours, makes you feel a little more light.)
I drove to Walmart and bought an alarm clock. This was where I was feeling the most tension — in the mornings. I felt as though my iPhone was the last thing I touched before I fell asleep, and the first thing I touched when I awoke. I had grown to hate that.
After I purchased my alarm clock, I charged my iPhone away from my bed. I woke up, and focused on not checking my phone. I didn’t touch it until after I had read my Bible, practiced silence and solitude, and drank my cup of coffee.
It was harder than I imagined it would be.
That makes me feel equally discouraged and determined. I keep reminding myself this is a process.
So now, to do this again tomorrow. And the day after that, too.
I would like to fill up my soul with a whole host of things, and a huge part of that is finding balance when it comes to living in a digital world. But today, I’m starting with this.