I’ve mentioned that I have focus issues.
I know. I repeat myself regularly.
Stay with me. I’ll do my best to not bore you with the ALL the hairy details.
Recently, I was talking to a friend who’s also a busy mom. She takes care of her small farm, runs a business, and is active in her community. Like many of us today, she has a million entrees in her picnic basket.
She goes through phases where she handles her multiple balls better than other times. She also goes through periods of extreme brain fog and fatigue, but I was surprised to hear her say this in reference to the brain fog:
“I’ve been more scattered than usual lately, so I’ve been looking closer, examining when it started, and I can’t ignore that I’ve had a sort of progressive mental decline since I first got a smartphone.”
I pondered her words.
I’ve noticed the exact thing with myself.
I was a bit late to the smartphone game. Gil surprised us with an iPad the year they became mainstream in late 2010, and I had a computer. Gil’s company upgraded from Blackberries to iPhones around this time, and Gil loved the change, but since I didn’t necessarily need an iPhone — I had access to everything I needed at home along with a basic cell phone — I was in no rush, even though most of my friends had fancier phones.
I held off until mid-2013 when Gil was up for an upgrade. I happily took his iPhone 4 and used it as needed until last summer when the operating system could no longer be upgraded. The iPhone 4 was slow and no longer working optimally, so after much weighing of options and deliberation, I settled on an iPhone SE.
Now is when I feel I should address those of you who LOVE and prefer Android. I get it — you have more control; you get more for your money, all that. I know. But…I’m Team Apple. It works best for me.
The iPhone SE is everything and more that I’ve ever needed, but over the past year as I’ve relied on it more and more for organization (ha!), social media, texting, Voxer voice app, Marco Polo (Video talk app), audiobooks, music, flashlight, email, alarm clock, camera, the list goes on — I’ve felt LESS efficient. It’s a smart phone, but I’m beginning to question if it’s the smartest tool FOR ME.
It definitely hinders my focus. People with ADHD love a good dopamine hit, so it’s easy to fall into borderline smartphone addiction. I look at my phone for a specific task and see that I have a message, so I fall down a rabbit hole of checking messages, often forgetting why I pulled my phone out in the first place.
I remember one of my reasons for wanting a smartphone was convenience — I thought it would be handy when I was out and about. And I DO use it for many of the things I wanted it for. However, lately I see it as more of a distraction than anything else. I remember thinking it would be a dream at the grocery store because I could pull up recipes while I was shopping, and occasionally I DO use it this way, but I’m not sure it’s actually that helpful on shopping trips. If anything, it makes me less likely to plan ahead and more prone to procrastination — something I do not need. I’m less efficient when I shop spur of the moment because I haven’t taken the time to think through what I want to buy.
I actually do better when I write certain things down on a sheet of paper with a pen. It secures the information in my brain. This is especially true with a mundane task like grocery shopping. My friend concurred — she’s the same way.
This weekend I had some much-needed down time, which allowed me to take a hard look at myself. I often do this as summer approaches or anytime I’ve noticed that the world is annoying me to no end. (I’m referring to the day-to-day stuff. The BIG world stuff is so problematic right now that I can only take in so much at once. I suppose this is part of my reasoning for examining myself. A change-what-you-can mentality.)
Once again I’ve morphed into a bit of a hot mess after family birthdays, painful anniversaries, but mostly the freaking frenetic, insane schedule that we seem to keep regardless of how much I say no to.
This introspection mostly consists of me staring into the mirror after Gil and I have had a fight, often stemming from me losing my shit on him because I’ve reached my limit, and he’s the one who gets my wrath (I KNOW — I’m working on it!!) and saying to myself:
What is it that you need, Viv?
The answer in some form is always mindfulness, spirituality, creative outlets. You get the idea.
In the past it’s been better nutrition, exercise, and sleep — and while these are also crucial, this has been a good year with these three lifestyle habits. Nothing way out of whack. Food and nutrient intake could be slightly better, but even that is better than it’s been in a long time.
I need to get back to meditation and yoga. These haven’t been non-existent since the new year, but they haven’t been happening regularly this past month or so.
The other thing that came up was connection — like with live humans other than Gil and my two kids. Hmmmm
I think the smartphone hinders this, too. I connect too much through text. I have two friends who I Vox and Marco Polo with, and I truly LOVE that I’m able to connect via technology. These are dear friends who live far away, and these apps allow more personal communication that makes the distance feel less extreme.
So, I’m putting the smartphone down — especially at home. I’m trying to bring more mindfulness into whatever I’m engaged in — writing, teaching, even laundry and dishes. This weekend went well, and my focus is already better. More details to come.
I’d love to hear your thoughts! Tell me about YOU and your smartphone? How do you balance it? Do you feel like my friend who thinks it contributes to brain fog and feeling scattered? Does it make you more connected? Less? Somewhere in between? Do tell.