Stop This Habit TodayBy Samantha Boardman, M.D.
What is the last thing you do before going to sleep?
What is the first thing you do in the morning?
If your answer is checking your phone, it's time to rethink this habit.
Studies show smartphone use before bed disrupts sleep and decreases focus the following day. In addition to keeping people mentally engaged, smartphones emit blue light that interferes with the sleep hormone melatonin.
Automatically checking the phone first thing in the morning is no better. Eighty percent of smartphone users say they check them before brushing their teeth! That’s right. Before kissing their partner, hugging their child, washing their face, or having a cup of coffee, they reach for their device. It has become part of most people’s morning routine.
So why is this such a bad way to start your day? Sid Savara, an expert in time management, says that the minute you check your email in the morning, “you risk doing what someone else wants you to do.”
It hijacks focus and immediately puts you in reaction mode where other people’s priorities take center stage. As described in a recent Harvard Business Review report, How to Spend the First 10 Minutes of Your Day, ”it is the equivalent of entering a kitchen and looking for a spill to clean or a pot to scrub.”
In keeping with the cooking metaphor, consider doing what great chefs do before cooking a meal. They don’t just dive into executing the dish. Before touching a pot or measuring a spoonful of sugar, they create a “mise-en-scene” which translates as “everything in its place.” It is the planning phase of every meal:
the moment when chefs evaluate the totality of what they are trying to achieve and create an action plan for the meal ahead.
Begin your day with an intellectual mise-en-scene. Plan ahead. Prioritize your list. Above all, put your smartphone away when you are with the people you love. They are your priority, not other people’s Instagram feeds.
Samantha Boardman, M.D., a clinical Instructor in Psychiatry, Public Health and Assistant