Studies Show That Smartphones Cause Cancer … To Your Creativity

Ok, so the studies have been my own…but most of my best discoveries come from the laboratory of my own life.

Smartphones don’t actually cause cancer as far as I know, but I have learned that my iPhone is like a tumor that is taking over my time, my attention and breaks up the flow of my creativity.

I am trying to write a book.

In the midst of running a consulting practice, managing 2 other business and raising 2 kids.

I know that is a little over-zealous, but it is something I really want to do. It feels like a book that wants to get written.

I just can’t find the time.

I feel this frantic pressure. I know it is an imaginary pressure, because I don’t have a deadline set by anyone other than myself.

Yet everyday, when I have plans to spend some time working on the book, I end up taking a call from a client or the dentist office, answering a text or responding to an email.

All of these things seem urgent.

I have to get something done or provide some information for someone. By the time I have 23 minutes left before the bus leaves my kids on the corner, I can’t write, it isn’t flowing, I am blocked.  So one more day, no more progress.

This has now happened for many days in a row.

I have always been hyper-organized.

I have read all of the books and taken all the seminars about time management. I am good at managing calls, appointments, getting reports done, following up with people.

The difference is, those things only require that my brain accomplish a task.  I have some mastery in the game of getting s&*t done.

But now I am choosing to do something that takes a different part of my brain, a different part of me.

Writing a chapter in a book, or painting, or composing is not the same as filling out a form or creating a spreadsheet.

I discovered that I was doing 2 things wrong.

  1. I was trying to shove writing between client meetings.  While writing, I would watch the clock, knowing I had to save 5 extra minutes to pee.
  2.  I had my iPhone on my desk. Every time it would chirp with a call or text I would look at it.

Because I am new at this “artistic” stuff, I didn’t realize how detrimental that was in blocking my creative flow.

I didn’t usually answer the call or text that came in, but it had my creative brain yield to my manager brain.  It was just for an instant….but afterwards,  it took me a few minutes to regain my rhythm and by the time I did, I was looking up at the clock again to make sure I still had enough time to pee.

While I bounced back and forth between my two “brains”,  I had written 2 rather incomprehensible paragraphs.  I knew it was terrible, and Molly (the voice in my head) told me that I was a just a sucky writer and should probably just give up; now would be better than later.

I really want to write this book, but I was stuck.

Those are the moments I always call my coach.

(Yes, even coaches have coaches. I always need someone to remind me of what I am doing, keep me on track with my projects and be kinder to me than Molly.)

My coach, in all of his brilliance,  taught me about the “maker’s schedule“.  (Astonishingly,  there have been other people that have had this problem too.)

He confirmed that we can’t produce creative work in the same way we accomplish tasks.

(That also confirmed I was probably not brain damaged.)  He told me that some of the great creatives of our time schedule themselves in blocks as long as days rather than in the 15 minute increments I had been taught to use in Outlook.

Some creatives have the freedom to take 3 days to focus entirely on their craft, 2 days as buffer days to handle the bills and emails, and 2 free days to actually have a life.

Though that sounded heavenly to me, I can’t take entire days to focus on my creative work.  I have kids who need tending to and I have some other commitments that require my daily attention.  But the concept is really useful.

Here is my modified version:

After the kids are off to school, I complete my morning calls and make sure there are no emergencies. Then, I use my afternoons for creative or buffer blocks:
Monday:  4 hour block of creative time
Tuesday and Wednesday: Cram in every appointment and client meeting I possibly can.
Thursday and Friday: Big blocks of creative time
Saturday and Sunday:  Live life  (what a novel concept!)

But here is the catch …

During the creative blocks, I turn my phone on airplane mode.

No calls, no texts.

It freaked me out a little, in case the school nurse called, but I realized that had only happened 2 times in 4 years and I found a work-around so they could get a hold of me in an emergency.

So far, I have produced more than I have in the last 4 months and don’t feel that overwhelming anxiety about not getting done what I really want to get done.

I have also found that the world still spins, even though I didn’t check my email or texts every 10 minutes.

Granted, school gets out next week and all of my new found plans could go to hell, but it gives me a new framework and freedom for creating my schedule in a way that allows me to accomplish what I want to accomplish, as well as what everyone expects from me.

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  1. Daryl says

    Good article very true. Janice has done some creative writing but hasn’t finished any books yet. When she has been writing I recall her telling me her brain needs down time to create and some of our best ideas come to us when we are doing nothing for instance some of her best ideas came when she was falling asleep so she would get up and write them down. Stephen king wrote a very good book on the creative writing process. I believe Janice has it if you want to borrow it.

    • says

      Thanks so much Daryl. I have been carrying a notebook around me with everywhere as well. Sometimes, I get ideas and I have to write with the same urgency I need to eat when I am hungry. It is fun learning this new way of operating at 41!
      Love and light…

  2. says

    This is a great blogpost, Cherie.

    I struggle with blocking off enough time to do my creative work. Unfortunately, it’s not like doing a chore; I have to be in the zone.

    Your schedule is inspiring me to try to carve out an ongoing schedule like this.

    Thanks for your great writing.

    • says

      At least I know I am in good company Joey! You have always been an artist…I am new to this….but in today’s world we are all new to the constant barrage of phone calls and texts and interruptions. Remember in high school when we had those LONG cords that always got tangled up on the kitchen phone so we could go down the hall to talk to our friends!?

      I think our task is keeping the control of our schedule and our life, and not giving it over to our electronic junkie brains!

      Be well and good luck with your reality submission!

    • says

      You’re Welcome Christine! There is no way to have our brain stop having everything be an emergency….so the best way I have found to circumvent it…is to remove the stimulus of the phone and email. Be amazing!

    • says

      All I can do is point Christine. :) In my book (that is being edited now) I put my favorite Indigo Girls quote..” There is more than one answer to these questions, pointing us in a crooked line. And the less I seek my source for some definitive, the closer I am to fine.” I love that.

  3. Gina Anderson says

    I remember those days of craziness with kids and working. I worked for 40 years and raised 4 kids and now it all seems like a blur. I realize that life goes on any many of the things I worried about were so insignificant but seemed major at the time. Now my life is full of choices on how to spend my time and enjoy each day with a sense of purpose. To every age there is a season!!

    • says

      Gina, What you say points to the fact that it isn’t our circumstances that create our joy or frustration, it always seems to be our perspective or world view about whatever is going on. That said, parenting multiple kids is the hardest job of all. Enjoy your retirement!

  4. Cara Levitt says

    Love how honest you are in your writing! It’s amazing what you can do when you allow yourself complete focus and time :)

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