Your smartphone is hijacking your brain. Here's how to stop it.


A sort of self-satisfied rage sets in whenever I see someone struggling to navigate typical life—and inconveniencing me in the process—because they simply cannot look up from their phone. I recently found myself stuck behind a woman gamely attempting to maneuver through a narrow bus aisle while keeping her gaze firmly attached to her screen. When she almost tripped over a broad step (which, in addition to slip-resistant traction, sported a wide, bright yellow streak designed to make the stair highly visible—no match for the glare of a smartphone, apparently) I had to hold back a snicker. I don’t think Manoush Zomorodi, the author of the recent book Bored and Brilliant: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Spacing Out, intended for the text to turn me into such a jerk. That’s just a side benefit.

In the book, which is an outgrowth of her WNYC podcast Note to Self, Zomorodi’s isn’t trying to turn readers into smug luddites who only own flip phones. Instead, the book’s seven challenges (one for each day in a week) are designed to help readers reclaim their time from digital distractions—without giving up smartphone usage—and to give them the mental space to be bored. Bored? Yes, bored.