The Brick Method Made Me a Better CEO!
It’s strange to think that a little more than a decade ago, smartphones weren’t even around. I was still using my Motorola RAZR to make calls and send occasional texts. I never thought about how much time I spent on my phone in a given day, or how many notifications I left unopened, or how many likes I had on a post. Phones were simply a communication tool.
Now we use them so much that we find ways to limit our screen time and wear blue light–blocking glasses to protect our eyes. In my opinion, the iPhone is the most important product Steve Jobs ever launched. It has created whole new economies, new types of design, and new behavior patterns, some of which we are trying to unwind.
As a founder, I have to focus — a lot. On any given day, I have hundreds of tasks that need to be executed in a well-orchestrated manner so I can make the slightest progress on the incredibly ambitious goals that drive me day in and day out. Like many of us, however, I often succumb to the infinite scrolling of social media, news, shopping, and chats on my smartphone. Procrastination has always been a struggle for me, and the iPhone is doing me no favors.
Early last year, a friend invited me to an event hosted by Brick, an organization focused solely on digital wellness by reducing screen time and fostering more meaningful connections. It all centers around “brick time”: essentially, turning off your phone or putting it in airplane mode for stretches of time each day. Even an hour a day can have significant positive effects on your life—at least, it has for mine.
I now start my day with brick time. My phone is across the room when I sleep, and I don’t reach for it until at least an hour after I wake up. It’s helped me keep to a more structured morning routine consisting of coffee, meditation, reading, and exercise. Brick classifies brick time as simply engaging in some activity that you like without your phone. It could be cooking, reading, or playing with your dog, to name a few examples. There’s no mandate on what activity or how long.
These simple changes in my daily behavior have reduced my anxiety, increased my ability to focus, allowed me to make better decisions, allowed me to be more present in the company of others, and directly increased the bottom line of my business as I’ve been significantly more productive.
Brick has broken new ground in opening the dialogue around phone dependency and built a strong community to help foster positive change. Sobel sees Brick growing to become a global organization where people share with each other and support one another on their journeys to digital wellness. I, for one, am fully behind that mission.
I believe that the more intentional time we spend being present with ourselves and engaged with the world around us, the more content we will be and the more capable we can become. I’ve seen direct evidence of this as a founder of an early stage startup. I don’t think I would have the ability to follow through on all the demands of startup life without intentionally working on my digital wellness practices. That’s why I use what has turned out to be the most powerful feature of my smartphone: the off button.
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