Could You Take a Week Off From Your Smartphone?

By Karen Fratti 

jh_boredbrilliant600x279Are you failing miserably at your New Year’s resolutions? If you want to feel better about your self-control and endurance, you can join in on the “Bored and Brilliant” challenge for a whole week in February. Short, sweet, and maybe productive.

A New York City based podcast, WNYC’s “New Tech City,” is challenging listeners (you can subscribe to the podcast on Stitcher or iTunes if you can’t tune in locally) to step away from their phones and just let themselves be bored.

Don’t fear: host Manoush Zomorodi and her team aren’t smartphone haters. In fact, according to their rules of engagement:

We’re not suggesting anyone get rid of their phones. We don’t want to get rid of our phones. We want to learn to live with them in a healthy way.

The challenge is full of ironies. Firstly, they’re using the iPhone app Moment for the challenges and to aggregate data. Android users can follow along with BreakFree or Checky for iPhone users that don’t have enough space for an iOS upgrade. Secondly, you have to follow along on social media and spend some time in the morning listening to a short podcast to get your mission for the day. Again, living in balance with the phone.

Every day for a week, participants will receive the challenge of the day via email newsletter and a short podcast. Re/code has the schedule:

Feb. 2: “In Your Pocket” — Keep your phone down while walking down the street or in transit.
Feb. 3: “Photo-Free Day” — See the world for a day just through your eyes, not through your phone’s screen.
Feb. 4: “Delete That App” — Choose the app that you are most addicted to and waste the most time on, and delete it.
Feb. 5: “Take a Fauxcation” — Schedule an away message telling the world you are focusing on offline projects. Even for just an hour.
Feb. 6: “One Small Observation” — Take your newfound phone-free time and notice something you would have missed before.
Feb. 7 & 8: “Get Creative With Nina Katchadourian” — Get bored and take on a creative task, inspired and guided by artist Nina Katchadourian.

The premise is that boredom is OK and it allows for creative thinking or daydreaming. Whereas now when I even sense I might be bored, I play Two Dots like it’s nobody’s business.

Are you so hooked to your phone that you can’t take a picture for a whole day? I think I do that sometimes anyway. Randomly scrolling through Instagram feeds I’ve seen a million times? Now that would be a challenge. Not scrolling through Instagram while walking down the street? That’s going to be torture.

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