If you’re like the average working human being, your morning routine includes scrolling, swiping, and typing on your smartphone. It doesn’t take long to start basking in the glow of your screen, either — a 2018 study from RootMetrics revealed that one-quarter of adults check their phones less than one minute after waking up. So much for remembering those sweet dreams — gotta check what’s happening on Instagram.
Ryan Estis, a sales and leadership researcher and entrepreneur who has worked with such clients as AT&T, Adobe, and the Mayo Clinic, has established a healthier morning routine. Before Estis took the stage to kick off the Destinations International Annual Convention on July 23 in St. Louis, he told Convene that an optimal day begins with exercise, meditation, and a non-digital practice. “I use a journal called the five-minute journal,” he said. “It includes three things I’m grateful for, but it’s also an intention journal. These are three things that I’m focused on that can make the day great. Then, there’s a check-in at night to see what I’ve accomplished.”
It’s part of Estis’ philosophy that “if you win the morning, you win the day.” Estis’ journaling routine has benefits that extend well beyond those 24 hours, too. “It’s fun to look back and see where I was a year ago,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to reflect on my journey with intention and gratitude.”
What About the Rest of the Day?
Estis has frequently tackled the challenges that smartphones present, writing about the sting of anxiety when taking a digital detox and dealing with phantom vibrations even when he doesn’t have his phone. “Smartphones that enable us to work from anywhere are delusional,” Estis said. “They are extremely addictive, and they rob us of our attention and our capacity to do deep work. I have battled my own addiction to my smartphone.”
Part of his solution involves elevating his level of self-awareness with, ironically, something on his smartphone. Estis uses the Moment app, which helps users track the way they spend time with their small screens. It’s more than a monitoring system, though. Estis uses it to work toward specific goals.
“I want to get my usage under three hours and minimize the number of [times I touch my phone],” he said. “If I can get under 40 [of those] pickups a day, that is gold. It’s given me a better understanding of my relationship with my phone. And that leads to a better understanding of how to create more meaningful relationships with the people around me.”
David McMillin is a Convene associate editor.