The past few weeks, usually in green-rooms, there’s been a recurring conversation between my musician friends and myself and I’ve been trying to think of a way to invite you in on it.
Here’s my plan:
- I’ll give a quick explanation what my friends and I have been talking about. (how it's a natural struggle of mine)
- I’ll give links to a few podcast episodes and videos (not my podcast… what do you think I’m running here?) that have been circulating between my friends and myself on this topic and it's connection to why we, as artist's and creators, need to embrace boredom.
This all starts with a personal weakness of mine
If left to my own nature, large amounts of my focus and attention during [what I call] the “In-between” moments of my day go straight to my cell phone.
- Waiting for my Americano to be made at a coffee shop,
- every moment I’m not using my hand to wipe while on the toilet (and sometimes even during that if it’s a particularly rough day)
- a moment between songs during a rehearsal or a session, out to dinner with Sarah and she gets up for some reason
- or the most destructive: right when I wake up or am lying in bed before I fall asleep.
ANY time my brain isn’t focused 100% on some other obligation, my body is trained to put an iPhone 14 inches in front of my face.
By this point, it’s a reflex: Left-hand, back-left pocket, phone on… Instagram.
A couple months ago, the amount of my addiction was made aware to me in a way I didn’t see coming:
I set up an appointment at an Apple ‘Genius Bar’ in Uptown Minneapolis because they’re currently offering a replacement due to a battery recall that causes the iPhones to die faster. I felt like my iPhone 7 should be getting way more life out of a charge so I went in to have it checked. The first thing he did was pull up my “Usage” under the Battery menu in Settings. After looking at it, he said something to the tune of “Dude, your battery’s fine. Look, it shows how many hours a day you’re using each app and how much you’re on it. That’s why it’s dying so fast.” It was 1:30 in the afternoon and the embarrassment of being pointed out the number of minutes (*cough*… maybe hours) I’d been on it that day was like slipping and falling on an icy sidewalk in front of a stranger in January. Yeah, we know everyone’s done it, they’re most likely not judging you, but you still feel like a jackass. My midwest ego preceded to feel the need to tell this stranger that… “Oh… I use it for work…” or some excuse like that.
I know what some of you thinking right now, you’re like me and actually do use our phone for work. Let’s be real, your career depends on you staying connected to a certain extent. I’ll be the first to say that if you’re an artist, musician or creator of any kind, your butt better be on social media sharing your work where people can see it. You NEED to be intentional about your electronic communication with others. (If you take a week to respond to an email, regularly don’t reply to texts or phone calls, that’s not because you’re an “artistic” or “creative person” you’re flat out lazy)
That’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the mindless phone-scanning that I end up doing on a regular basis. It’s not the times I’m on Instagram intentionally building relationships with a community, It’s when I’m scrolling though pointless memes. I’m not talking about when I’m on facebook checking in with people, answering messages and being in healthy conversations… I’m talking about the pointless, constant, open-mouth drooling while my thumb swipes up kind of phone habit I’ve created.
Sarah [my wife] was explaining to me recently the social ramifications of this that she’s learned of in her professional career. 20 years ago, before cell phones, we didn’t have as big of a need for this “Mindfulness” movement that you’re seeing today. Back then, when you were at a restaurant, you didn’t need to worry about being mindful because you were THERE! Wherever your body was and with whoever was in front of you. These days, we’re able to send our consciousness away from our physical location at the drop as quick as it takes to put my thumb on glass. I’m no longer having random conversations with the band in the green room, I’m watching my friend hang out on a beach somewhere.
Because of the conversations I've had with my friends, I've realized I'm not alone in this. We realize that, if we’re going to make something of value and center ourselves in our creative flow, our brains need down time to process on a sub-conscious level.
That’s why I’ve been experimenting lately with [what I’m calling] daily “micro-disciplines” to see what helps me function on a more intentional level.
Some of the more successful ones as of late have been:
- Phone on “Do Not Disturb” (with tomorrow’s alarm set and plugged in on the opposite side of the room from my bed) an hour before bed.
- Phone off the first 1.5 to 2 hours of my day.
- Setting aside specific blocks of time in my day (once in the AM and once in the pm) that I check social-media INTENTIONALLY. Outside of that, no mindless reflex-checking.
- And the biggest no-brainer: All social-media notifications turned off.
If any of this resonates with you and you want to join the conversation (or just awareness for the need of intentionality with these things) here are links to some of the podcasts we’ve been listening to.
Give them a listen and I’d love to hear your insight, thoughts or personal daily micro-disciplines that you feel would help other artists and creators in the comments below.
(All links will open in Apple Podcasts that’s already on your phone. Scroll to the bottom for links if you’re reading this on your computer or an android device)