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I had fallen into a dangerous loop. I knew I was doing it too much.

It was easy to justify checking my phone constantly — especially since I work on a newsletter that collects valuable ideas from around the web. I was constantly browsing and searching, all day, every day.

So I did something about it.


I didn’t take a "digital detox" and completely abandon social media for a brief period of time because that feels more like a temporary treatment than an actual solution. I might have felt better for a couple days, but once I returned from my detox, I assume everything else would have gone back to "normal" — and normal wasn’t working for me.

I set out to change my phone habits and create a simple set of rules to limit the negative (and amplify the positive) impacts of when and how I use my phone.

What I came up with was this set of 10 guidelines to ensure I used my phone with more intention. They made a huge difference in how often I check my phone, what I get out of it, and how I feel about it.

1. I stopped checking my phone in my car.

I never really checked my phone while driving — it's dangerous (and you should definitely stop that whether you try out these rules or not), but with this rule I also outlawed checking it at stoplights, in heavy traffic, or any time I was in my car.

I discovered how often I was checking my phone in the car previously, how unnecessary it was, and how it actually made things like sitting in traffic more frustrating than they otherwise might be.

2. I stopped checking my phone during TV commercials.

I hate commercials as much as the next guy, and sometimes social media seems like it was invented to fill up those two-minute interruptions — no wonder I checked my phone at every TV timeout.

But when I picked up my phone during a commercial, I rarely put it back down when the show came back on. It captured my attention and drew it away from what I actually wanted to watch.

To help me stick with this rule, I implemented another one…

3. I kept my phone across the room when I wasn’t using it.

Turns out the only thing stronger than the allure of social networks is the allure of not getting up off the couch.

The further my phone is from me, the less likely I am to randomly check it.

4. I turned off all notifications.

If we enable them, we are asking our phones to interrupt us. This interruptions can be unnecessary and poisonous. Now, there are no dings when somebody likes my Facebook post or sends me an email.

5. I chose an end point for each random surfing session.

I believe in the value of "getting lost on the internet" and continue to do so. But now, when I pick up my phone to do some random surfing, I set an end point for the journey before I start. For example, when I decide to browse Twitter, I also consciously decide to do so for just 20 minutes.

It protects my time and ensures a little surfing doesn’t turn into a time suck, but it also creates a space for me to explore and discover new things.

6. I stopped checking my phone while in line.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, but it’s definitely not an intentional use of your phone.

By following this rule, I send a message to myself that I’m in control of my attention as opposed to ceding it to my phone any time I’ve got a moment to spare.

7. I created a framework for my day with buffers at the beginning and end of it.

If the first thing I do when I wake up and the last thing I do before going to sleep is to check my phone, what kind of message does that send to my brain about the role of my phone in my life?

One of the simplest things I did to switch up my phone habits was to create a buffer zone — in the morning and at night — when I don’t use my phone.

I don’t pick up my phone until I’ve finished breakfast (which typically means I’ve been up for at least 30 minutes) and stop using my phone at least an hour before going to sleep.

8. I put my phone away after I post something on social media.

After I post an article or a tweet or a Facebook status, I’m going to be tempted to check and see whether people like and share it over the next hour or two.

To counteract this pull, I made it a rule to log off after posting something and not check my phone for a while. It’s a conscious effort to avoid getting drawn into my phone in an unnecessary usage pattern.

Likes, shares, or interactions will still be there when I check back in, and I don’t need to follow the action in real time.

9. I stopped repeating the cycle.

By the time I went through checking a couple of email addresses, my Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Medium accounts, enough time went by that I felt the urge to go back to the beginning of the cycle and check them all again to see what was new since I last checked.

Obviously, that’s not a great habit.

I created this rule, which means I go through the cycle and check each platform once per phone-use session, and when I’m done, I’m done.

10. I recognized it’s a work in progress.

One of the reasons I don’t like the concept of a full digital detox is because it’s an all-or-nothing scenario ,  and I don’t believe that’s how we ultimately create positive, lasting change.

My effort to be more intentional with my phone hasn’t been perfect, but it has helped me start to make lasting changes in my habits.

Like all things, it’s a work in progress. That’s OK. The point is to head in the right direction and learn along the way  —  and that’s exactly what these rules helped me to do. I hope they help you as well.

This article originally appeared in the "For the Interested" newsletter, a weekly collection of ideas to help you learn, do, and become better. It is reprinted here with permission.

Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

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Joy

Tea time: how this boutique blends cultures from around the world

Ethically sourced, modern clothes for kids that embrace adventure, inspire connections and global thinking.

The Tea Collection combines philanthropic efforts with a deep rooted sense of multiculturalism into each of their designs so that kids can grow up with global sensibilities. They make clothes built to last with practicality and adventure in mind. But why "Tea"?

Let's spill it. Tea is a drink shared around the world with people from all different cultures. It is a common thread that weaves the world together. The Tea Collection was born from a love of travel and a love of sharing tea with different people in different places. Inspired by patterns from around the world, these clothes help children develop a familiarity with global communities.

Tea sources their materials ethically and ensures that each of their partners abide to strict codes of conduct. They have a zero-tolerance policy for anything "even slightly questionable" and make sure that they regularly visit their manufacturing partners to ensure that they're supporting positive working conditions.

Since 2003, The Tea Collection has partnered with the Global Fund for Children and has invested in different grassroots organizations that create community empowered programs to uplift kids in need. They donate 10% of their proceeds and have already contributed over $500,000 to different organizations such as: The Homeless Prenatal Program (San Francisco, CA, USA), Door of Faith Orphanage (Baja California, Mexico), Little Sisters Fund (Nepal) and others in Peru, Sri Lanka, India, Italy and Haiti.

But the best part about the Tea Collection? They're also an official member of the Kidizen Rewear Collective, which believes that clothes should stretch far beyond one child's use. They have their own external site for their preloved clothes that makes rewearing affordable. Families can trade in gently used Tea clothes and receive discounts for future products. Shopping the site helps keep clothes out of land fills and reduces the environmental impact of the fashion industry.

By creating heirloom style clothing made to last families can buy, sell, and trade clothes that can be reworn again and again. Because "new to you" doesn't always have to mean never been worn. And let's be honest, we all know how fast kids grow! Shopping preloved clothes is a great way to keep styles fresh without harming the environment or feeling guilty about not getting the most out of certain styles.

But don't just take our word for it! Head over to the Tea Collection and see for yourself!

Upworthy has earned revenue through a partnership and/or may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through links on our site.

Education

Teacher of the year explains why he's leaving district in unforgettable 3-minute speech

"I'm leaving in hopes that I can regain the ability to do the job that I love."

Lee Allen

For all of our disagreements in modern American life, there are at least a few things most of us can agree on. One of those is the need for reform in public education. We don't all agree on the solutions but many of the challenges are undeniable: retaining great teachers, reducing classroom size and updating the focus of student curriculums to reflect the ever-changing needs of a globalized workforce.

And while parents, politicians and activists debate those remedies, one voice is all-too-often ignored: that of teachers themselves.

This is why a short video testimony from a teacher in the Atlanta suburb of Gwinnett County went viral recently. After all, it's hard to deny the points made by someone who was just named teacher of the year and used the occasion to announce why he will be leaving the very school district that just honored him with that distinction.

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