Three Steps to Digital Wellbeing

Three Steps to Digital Wellbeing

Many of my behavior design clients have a shared aspiration: They want more peace in their lives, more time with family and less time in front of their screens (specifically their phones).

I’ve been designing behavior interventions to fulfill this aspiration for myself over the last five years. The following steps are based on BJ Fogg’s Behavior Model and his methods for troubleshooting behaviors.

Step one: Get clear on your aspiration

First, you need to define which behaviors you deem are unhealthy. In his latest book Digital Minimalism, Cal Newport describes a process we must all go through to evaluate the benefits that each technology brings.

Rather than blindly adopt everything that technology has to offer, we have to make a cost-benefit analysis. When habitually using technology he encourages people to ask themselves:

What exactly do I gain, or lose?

For example, I wanted to stop using my smartphone before I went to sleep and upon waking first thing in the morning. I was losing quality sleep and feeling unwell when I woke up scrolling through my twitter feed.

I became clear in myself and resolved to stop these behaviors.

Step two: Remove the prompts

Through the Fogg Behavior Model, we understand that behavior happens when three things come together in the same moment: Motivation, ability and a prompt.

Motivation is the desire or willingness to do the behavior. In this case, my brain was addicted to the dopamine rush of checking my phone.

Ability is how hard or easy it is to do the behavior. My phone is always in my hand, my pocket or somewhere nearby. It’s very easy to unlock and begin tapping.

A prompt is the internal or external trigger which causes the behavior to occur.

The internal prompts for checking my phone is a urge in my stomach—often caused by stillness or the first semblance of boredom (any downtime whatsoever).

The external prompts for checking my phone are things like push notifications, app badge icons, text message alerts and phone calls.

Systematically remove prompts

Find your prompts and remove them. Try it. It works.

Internal prompts are the hardest to remove as they require mindfulness and self-awareness. Start with external prompts first.

Turn off all notifications for your addicting apps. Set your phone to automatically enter ‘Do not distrub’ mode everynight two hours before bed.

Place your phone in a wooden box upon entering your house. Plug your phone into a charger outside the bedroom so you don’t see your phone until after you’re awake.

Once you’ve removed your external prompts you can turn to your internal ones. When you feel that urge to check your phone take one deep breath.

Step three: Make it harder to do

Once you’ve systematically removed the internal and external prompts you now turn your attention to making the behavior harder to do.

Introduce friction all along the path to your desired behavior. Delete the app from your phone. Log out from the account in your browser. Turn off your wifi through a simple plug timer at the same time every night.

The harder you make the behavior to do, the less likely the behavior will occur.

If you think backwards through the sequence of steps you’ll find specific points where adding friction will be most effective. If you invest a little energy now and then making this harder to do you’ll reap the benefits long-term.

Bonus step: Replace with new behaviors

If you’ve followed this three step process you might find yourself with some additional space in your life. Often times people find that a psychological weight is lifted as soon as they reduce their device usage.

You’ll have a bit more time on your hands. A bit more head space. A bit more peace.

This is a great opportunity to design a replacement behavior. Instead of swiping through your phone before you sleep and once you wake up, what healthy behaviors could you do?

How about meditate for five minutes? (or three breaths)
How about doing a sun salutation? (yoga)
How about practicing four guitar chords?
Or doing one push-up?

If you’re excited about the new space you have in your life for healthy habits, give the free five day program at Tiny Habits a try. It takes a couple minutes to sign up, about 25-minutes over the weekend and a few minutes each day.

Let me know how it goes

If you give this process a try and run into any obstacles or have any interesting insights—feel free to get in touch!

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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

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The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

The post The Art Of Gary Choo appeared first on Halcyon Realms – Art Book Reviews – Anime, Manga, Film, Photography.

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