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Map phone and journal

When we check in, we also check out. Thanks to our miraculous little go-anywhere, do-anything devices, we often miss out on real life as we live the digital life. After we swipe on our phones, we can rarely resist going beyond that one call or text and getting sucked in. In the process, we may accidentally “phub” our families and friends: snubbing them by paying attention to our phones instead. The holiday season is an ideal time to reassess the connections that matter most and be truly present, so the EL team collected some of the strategies we’re using to outsmart our smartphones.

  1. Inviting guests to a party? Surprise them with a snail-mail invite instead of an Evite.
  2. Striving to teach your kids table manners for a family feast? Remember: Elbows — and phones — off the table. Studies show that even bringing your phone to dinner breeds negative feelings among tablemates as well as diminishing your own enjoyment of the meal.
  3. Shopping online for holiday gifts? Make a beeline instead to a locally owned gift shop — or craft something yourself. (Make your own with these beautiful, useful, and personalized DIY gift ideas for family and friends.)
  4. On the road and need directions? Use a good old paper map — and boost your spatial cognition at the same time.
  5. Checking the weather? Gaze out the window or step outdoors and look to the prevailing wind.
  6.  Sharing photos at get-togethers? Instead of making Grandma squint and scroll, make prints to share — and give them to her to post on her fridge.
  7. Jonesing to play a game? Skip online solitaire or Scrabble and play cards or board games with your friends or family.
  8. Wondering who starred in a certain film? Search your memory, debate it, and save your Google querying for later rather than interrupting the conversation.
  9. Trying to be on time? Sport a watch.
  10. Doing some basic math or calculating a tip? Scratch it out on paper to keep your hard-won mathematical skills alive.
  11. Need to wake up at a certain hour in the morning? Banish your phone — and its blue light, which can disrupt sleep — from your bedside and set a real alarm clock.
  12. Searching for a good read? Head to a public library, Little Free Library, or bookstore to browse for an actual book. (Try one of these staff-recommended books.)
  13. Getting tangled in the leash while walking your pup and talking on your phone? Leave your phone behind and enjoy the scenery, listen to the birds, chat with neighbors — or talk to your dog. 
  14. Taking notes in class or a meeting? Studies show we remember more if we write things down instead of typing them.
  15. Reminding yourself to pick up something at the store? Go old school and tie a string around your finger. It’ll also exercise your brain to remember why you tied it there.

Thoughts to share?

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