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I’m doing a Personal Experiment. Mostly because I don’t have anything else to do and my days are filled with nothing but petting unicorns and eating bonbons. So I needed something else to think about.

The Personal Experiment came about because I watched a webinar in which a woman (who has some credentials of some sort but I am too busy feeding bonbons to my unicorn to go look it up) talked about how New Year’s resolutions fail for [so many reasons], so what you really want to do is a Personal Experiment instead.

It was a pretty interesting webinar and there was a little worksheet for you to fill out so I got my pencil and did. Without spending too many words on it, the premise is this: think about what you do. Think about what you don’t do. Think about what you want, don’t want, might want. Think about what interests you or intrigues you. Think about what bothers you.

And then come up with a mini-plan to take some action against one of those things.

For instance, New Year rolls around and everyone goes on a diet. For five minutes. Webinar Woman Of Some Credentials says don’t resolve to start a diet. Do a Personal Experiment, where, perhaps, you test a theory about whether exercising in the morning makes you feel better.

Your Personal Experiment might be: do 30 minutes of exercise at 7AM for one week.

Then you collect data about how it went and use it to inform your next experiment.

I thought about this for a bit and finally landed on this: do not pick up my phone before noon for one week. See if it makes me feel better.

And so began the Personal Experiment. Today is Day 5.

I’ll tell you what, it’s been eye opening. For starters, I have gotten more done in the morning because I didn’t zone out in front of card games or word games.

In my quest to occupy my earliest waking hours, I actually did OTHER things. Let’s not get crazy, I’m not saying they were things I necessarily wanted to do, but I did them.

I read a little. I cleaned up a little. I ate breakfast and saw what was on my plate.

I didn’t scroll through Instagram posts, because really, who cares? I didn’t check email, which meant less obsessing about whatever thing suddenly needed doing. I didn’t just “look up That One Thing.”

The thing about Things is that you don’t need to know them all instantly. It is possible to, say, have a question, and then still have that question in five minutes. Remember when you had a question and you’d have to go to the library or something and look it up? Or just keep asking people? Or maybe not know AT ALL?

Remember when you didn’t feel the need to obsessively find everything out the minute you thought of it?

Like watching a TV show. In the middle of a TV show I have to look up who that person is and what else they’re in and how many episodes there are.

Or I could just watch the show and maybe never remember who that person is and it won’t matter anyway, or I could just watch the TV show and find out how many episodes there are when it’s over and I say oh, I guess that was all the episodes.

There are some exceptions I made for myself. For instance, I need the Peloton app to track my walking minutes, and the only place the app lives is on my phone. I can’t help it that everything is ON THE PHONE, and I can’t walk without tracking my minutes or I won’t get the little badge. Priorities.

But pushing “start tracking” isn’t really using the phone.

I made an exception for Spotify because if I have to listen to nine minutes of church bells at 8AM I am going to rip my ears off, so I put on my headphones and play Yanni for nine minutes instead. I can’t help it that music only exists in the ethereal realm that can only be accessed through my phone.

But pushing “play Yanni” isn’t really using my phone, and it was for the greater good.

I made an exception for calling the front office today to complain that the garbage people hadn’t been here to pick up for two days and if they thought I was going to walk across the ice skating rink of a parking lot that nobody could shovel, salt or sand for a full week to get to the dumpster, they were sadly mistaken.

But a phone is sometimes just a phone, and you have to use it to call people.

Other than that, the phone was off limits. I didn’t even check my texts.

On work days I get on my computer by 9 anyway and I’m checking mail and texts and if I really need to see if there are any cats on Instagram I can do it from my computer.

But that happens at 9, and not at 6 or 7, and not in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep and I think 27 more card games is going to help.

Yesterday morning I got on the bike without my phone. Because I did not need it, not to track minutes, not to make anything work. What I normally would have done on the bike is read, or watch Survivor, or maybe even play a word game which is not actually that easy to do while you’re sweating and trying to hang onto the handlebars and yet is an obsession I cannot let go.

But yesterday, and again today, I JUST rode the bike. I actually paid attention to the instructor. For a few minutes I thought I was going to lose my mind because single-tasking is so foreign. But I did it. It turned out to be kind of fun.

But work days without my phone were not the test.

The weekend was the test. Because on weekends I sometimes don’t even get out of bed before I’ve accrued at least a thousand word points and played the daily card challenge and figured out the Wordle and watched a few cat videos and checked my email and sent sixteen texts.

Sometimes I get out of bed and Ralph is playing Destiny and I sit on the couch and zone out in front of all the same things I was doing in bed. Sometimes I make it all the way to noon without PUTTING DOWN my phone.

This weekend I did not pick it up.

I actually lay there in bed and did nothing. I looked out the window. Did you know there is stuff out there? Like, trees and a sky and things? Right outside my window.

I looked at the windowsill that makes a perfect number 7 shape against the wall.

And then I got up. And then I had to figure out where I was because there was a whole apartment I don’t think I’ve ever seen without a phone filter.

I made breakfast. I sat there and ate it. I cleaned up the kitchen and read a book. I watered the Alices. I spilled water all over the shelves and books and didn’t even post it to Instagram.

So many people texted me but guess what? They didn’t die before noon when I finally answered them. Nobody thought I was dead, either. The world, it seems, goes on.

One morning I got up, made breakfast, made bread, made a pot of soup, folded laundry and cleaned the entire kitchen all before 9AM!

You may know that I have a love/hate relationship with technology, more hate than love lately, so I was most interested in how I’d feel without my tether. Would I actually lose my mind? Would I be counting the days until it was over? Would I love every second of it?

The answer, five days in, is sort of, no, and yes, in that order.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m addicted to my phone, but picking it up has become a pretty well-ingrained habit. When I’m bored. When I’m tired. When I have to write a blog about a metal pin and want to be doing anything else instead so I suddenly have to check on the little animals in my word game and make sure I’ve fed them enough so they earn more points.

It’s a lazy habit, a mindless thing I do to fill every idle second of my time and to avoid engaging with… well, anything.

It numbs your brain. Why be irritable when you could go stack another suit of hearts? Why be bored during a commercial break when you could look up that person you suddenly remembered from high school? Why have a question when you can instantly get the answer?

Not turning to that drug for relief did make me a little crazy. I had to just… sit there. And be bored. Or irritable. Or not know.

But I am not counting days until it’s over, either. In fact, I am planning to extend it another week. And then maybe another. And then maybe indefinitely.

Because I love it.

I love having my brain back, and my minutes, and a little empty space to do something or nothing without rushing to fill it with something that is very urgent and utterly meaningless.

Maybe with enough weeks I will retrain my brain to do one thing at a time. Maybe I will be able to sit still instead of needing constant stimulation. Maybe I will even find myself with enough time to add a dollop of whipped cream to the bonbons and share them with my shark, too. Stranger things have happened.

In the meantime, if you don’t hear from me before noon, rest assured that I am most probably not dead.