40 Switch Off

“Boredom is your window . . . Once this window opens, don't try to shut it; on the contrary, throw it wide open.”

Joseph Brodsky

Most of these hacks are about actively doing something to change how your brain works. This one's about not doing something. It's an un-hack. It's about not using your mobile phone.

The average smartphone user checks their phone at least 150 times a day and 58% of smartphone users don't go an hour without checking their phones.

It's not surprising they're called smartphones, because they certainly know how to push our buttons. Our prefrontal cortex (the part of our brain that expresses our personality and makes decisions) has a novelty bias. Basically, it's hijacked by anything new. And smartphones are brimming with newness.


Also if you're already doing something when you grab your phone you're multitasking and thereby creating a dopamine-addiction feedback loop. We're turning our brains into drug addicts. Effectively we're rewarding it for losing focus and for constantly searching for external stimulation.

Of course there's no denying how useful smartphones can be, but the way we get them out as soon as we have an idle moment is cutting out the opportunity for our mind to wander.

Christopher Nolan, the director of The Dark Knight trilogy, Inception and Interstellar, doesn't have a phone. In fact, he doesn't even have an email account. ...

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