The Benefits of Paying Attention


Last night I met a couple of my team members for dinner. At one point, my manager said, “Look around this restaurant at the people on their phones.” I looked around, and in the restaurant, every single table was filled with people with heads down, staring at their phones. And every one of them was sitting with at least a couple other people with heads down, looking at their phones.

As I’m becoming more aware of my phone usage, I’ve noticed a couple things. My dog doesn’t get real attention from me when I’m on my phone. She’ll look over at me on my phone, roll over and go to sleep. I’m sleeping better since I put my phone away about an hour before bed. I’ve been charging it in another room. My new app tells me I picked up my phone 36 times yesterday. 36 TIMES!! Today, I actually stashed it in my desk drawer so it wasn’t anywhere near me. I felt a little lost, but I felt present.


I’m trying to leave my phone at home whenever I can. I lock it up in my purse so I can’t easily grab it. I created a lock screen that reminds me where I want to put my attention. And last night at dinner, I left my phone in the car.  Our table actually engaged in conversation. This morning, I deleted all my social media apps and drove to work in silence. It felt liberating.

I’m in the phase of discovering how my phone makes me feel – before and after I use it. I feel anxious when it’s put up. I feel even more anxious when I go to pick it up, and it’s not there. But I haven’t gotten lost in a rabbit hole for a couple days. And still …. I picked it up 36 times yesterday.


My goal is to pay more attention to people, nature and my writing. On Monday, I took a walk with Ashok and noticed the maple leaves on a tree near the sidewalk. It made me think of fall. That made me think of Knoxville and how much I loved fall in the Smoky Mountains. I remembered my sister’s visit to the Applewood Farmhouse restaurant with her young daughter. And I thought of my favorite apple pie at Jollay Orchards in Michigan. That led me to remember my friend Autumn who lives near there. I felt happy remembering those things. My life felt full. I felt excited that fall was coming. I felt connected to friends and family. And I felt all of that because I noticed a leaf instead of a notification on my phone.

When I got home, I used that leaf as a writing prompt for Monday’s blog. Because of one second of being present, I paid attention to a leaf in nature. It led me to pay attention to the people I remember in my life, and all of that inspired my writing. Let the exploration continue. I like where this is heading.


2 Comments on “The Benefits of Paying Attention

  1. Yep, I get tired of looking at the tops of my family’s head when we get together, which isn’t that often. I also get tired of repeating myself because they were engrossed in their phone instead of listening to the conversation going on around them. I, too, need to spend less time with my phone….

    • Well, if you think about it, this is a fairly new cultural phenomenon. It would figure we would have some hiccups before we figure out how to balance it. I just know I need to have a life. It is passing me by while I have my head buried in meaningless chatter.

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