Habit Hacking: Phones and Notebooks

Day two of habit hacking this week, and it’s made somewhat easier by the fact that I’m heading to work in forty-five minutes. Work creates clean edges to work against. I like that.

It’s been a good morning thus far. Mostly, because I instituted the first rule of getting shit done: get your motherfucking cell phone out of the bedroom.

Also: your laptop, your tablet, and everything else connected to the internet.

I used to be good at this, but the events of this year saw me migrate my phone back to the bedside table because I was having a lot of online conversations that were ongoing. Now? Not so much. And so it’s time for the phone to start living on my coffee table, where it will not tempt me to check email, facebook, twitter, messenger, text messages, and youtube as soon as I wake up in the morning. It seems a simple thing, but removing that temptation seriously gets me back about thirty-five minutes every morning. I get up and shower, instead of lingering in bed hating the idea of getting on with my day.

Everyone I’ve ever suggested this to immediately goes into this recursive spiral of but I use my phone as an alarm clock, which I get. I used the same excuse for years, when my phone lived beside my pillow.

You know what I use for an alarm clock now? An alarm clock. It cost me eight bucks, has a battery for those days when the power goes out and it would be awesome if the alarm still worked, and sits far enough from my bed that I can’t reach the snooze button. I do not touch my phone until I’ve showered, dressed, and at least glanced by my journal to figured out what needs to be done with my day, so I’m mindful of what else I’m meant to be doing before I pick it up and check messages.

Sitting in the phone’s position on the bedside table is a couple off pens and this bad boy:

Current Project Notebook August 2016

Now my habit of pre-sleep web browsing is quietly replaced by scribbling a few pages of dialogue/notes about a series of novelettes I’ve been kicking around, and I start bookending the day with writing. Keyboard in the morning, notebook in the evening. That feels like an infinitely better choice than Facebook, although it’s going to take some time to get people used to me going off-line around 9:30 again.

Although I am reminded that I am quite specific about my requirements for line-rule in notebooks these days, and the 8mm rule in this one feels positively decadent.

  4 comments for “Habit Hacking: Phones and Notebooks

  1. 09/08/2016 at 10:59 AM

    Another great, really helpful post Peter. Thanks for the kick in the butt to think about how my mornings get wasted by phone and net time. I didn’t even know you could still buy alarm clocks, to be honest. Might have to look into that.

    • 09/08/2016 at 11:30 AM

      The store I bought my alarm clock from were pretty surprised they still sold them.

  2. 10/08/2016 at 10:31 AM

    Because of my frayed brain, I need a highly flexible alarm system — one where I can have a bunch already set and all I need to do is either switch them on or off. An alarm clock won’t cut it, but like you, if I’ve got my phone next to my head, that’s the first thing I reach for.

    I may try an extra series of alarms — set one for wake-up, then a subsequent one for GET OFF THE FACEBOOK YOU SILLY PERSON. Maybe one more after that, just in case. I’m wondering if I can nudge myself into picking up a different piece of reading material instead — turn the alarm on the phone off, and then grab a book or notebook before I call up an app.

    • 10/08/2016 at 10:50 AM

      An interim process I tried, which worked for a while, was to put the notebook on top of the phone beside my bed. That would mean I had it in hand before I turned the alarm off.

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