Break Free Of Your Phone Addiction With WNYC’s “Bored And Brilliant” Project

Most of us suffer from some form or another of smartphone addiction, and we have a tendency to whip out our phones anytime we’re alone with our thoughts or find ourselves getting bored. Without space for our minds to wander, are we missing out on prime creativity and cramming our heads with too much junk? Studies show that our best ideas come about when we allow ourselves to be bored and to daydream, so the host of WNYC’s New Tech City, Manoush Zomorodi, launched “Bored and Brilliant: Reclaiming The Lost Art Of Spacing Out,” a weeklong challenged that encourages us to see what happens when we spend less time on our phones. The challenge isn’t about abandoning technology so much as it’s about learning how to use our phones to our benefit – instead of technology interrupting our thoughts on the regular and somewhat controlling us, we can learn ways to access them on our terms. Interested participants are encouraged to sign up here and then track their phone usage with either the Break Free app (for Android phones) or the Moment app (for iPhones). The apps supply participants with a concrete number of times they check their phone each day or how many minutes they spend on it, and the results can be pretty jarring! Whatever a participant’s number may be, they’re encouraged to focus on reducing it by the end of the challenge. Beginning this Monday, February 2, users will receive a challenge each day for the next week. I’m going to give this a shot, so here’s what I (and you, if you so choose) will be up against:

  • Feb. 2, “In Your Pocket”: Avoid using your phone while walking, on the subway, or generally in transit.
  • Feb. 3, “Photo Free Day”: Refrain from taking any pictures for a day, to see the world, as NPR puts it, “just through your eyes, not through your phone’s screen.”
  • Feb. 4, “Delete That App”: Delete that addictive app you waste the most time on (this will be tough)!
  • Feb. 5, “Take a Fauxcation” : Set up an away message telling others that you’re working on off-line projects, even if it’s just for a short time, like an hour or two.
  • Feb. 6, “One Small Observation”: Use your time away from your phone to notice something you would have missed if you’d been glued to your device.
  • Feb. 7-8, “”Get Creative with Nina Katchadourian””: Get yourself bored and then focus on a creative ask,
  • take on a creative task, inspired by artist Nina Katchadourian.

If I have any life-changing revelations during or after the process (or you know, even feel slightly less of that anxiety effect I get from the constant stream of phone updates), I’ll report back! If you’re interested in joining me, sign up at the link above! Manoush, the project’s fearless leader, will be attempting it along with us. If you’re looking for inspiration, take a cue from the Louis C.K., who sums up everything there is to be said about looking up from our phones within just a few sentences.

[Image via Shutterstock]