Break your phone!

Kathryn Crawford Saxer A Little Kindness

I watched my phone slip through my fingers, flip in the air and land face down on the concrete. I knew it was going to be bad.

The screen was shattered. A shard of glass stabbed my finger when I tried to swipe the screen. My phone spent a week in the shop.

This is what I learned in its absence:

I read more. I finished one of the nonfiction, work-related books that I’ve been meaning to read forever. (I even learned something!)

I slept more. I fell asleep reading with the light on, rather than getting riled up — and sleepless — as I scrolled through my feeds.

I could feel the addiction. Patting for my phone felt exactly like the draw of coffee in the morning or a drink at the end of the day: a habit to keep a careful eye on.

I was tangibly happier. For a week, I wasn’t getting adrenal spikes from news alerts. When I wasn’t in front of my computer at work or in my home office, I was paying more attention to the life around me.

I wanted to change my behavior when I got my phone back. I’m sharing these changes here so you don’t have to break your phone, too, to make your life a little happier:

I bought an adorable alarm clock. My phone now spends the night plugged in downstairs.

My phone is in the trunk when I’m driving. No quick temptation to check it at red lights (with my 15-year-old son who will be driving soon watching and taking mental notes).

My phone charges in my home office, not on the kitchen counter demanding my Pavlovian attention with every text and email and terrifying news alert.

“Kathryn! I’ve been texting you all afternoon! Where have you been?” a friend admonished me.

“I broke my phone,” I told her. “It’s been lovely.”

First published in The Seattle Times. Read my archive of Seattle Times Explore columns.