(Almost) Forced Downtime

It takes less and less to get me distracted. It is possible that you feel this way, too.

We are imperfect cyborgs; we have tons of technology that’s badly tethered to our body, and we don’t have the bandwidth to absorb all the information at our disposal at each moment.

Worse, we don’t have a good way to absorb information from multiple sources at the same time.

This affliction strikes me with especial gusto in the morning. When I wake up, the easiest thing is to pick up the phone and start to browse the news, or messages, or emails, or Facebook and Twitter posts… Anything goes as an excuse to not get up and do the things that can effectively be classified as “living your life.”

I found out, almost by chance (Is it a recent feature? No clue .) a function called “Downtime” in iOS. I can use it to set a period (for example, from 9:00 pm to 9:00 am) during which the phone blocks applications, and only lets me receive calls and SMS. It’s not a very strong block – one touch can unlock an app for 15 minutes if I desperately need to use it – but it’s deterrent enough to decrease the effort required to maintain self-control.

Not for the first time, I realize that it is more efficient to reduce options and create obstacles to unwanted behaviors than to rely on discipline and willpower.

Painting: “The Interrupted Sleep,” by François Boucher