5,203 Things To Do Instead Of Looking At Your Phone

5,203 Things To Do Instead Of Looking At Your Phone

It’s more important than ever to slow down, look up from whatever device you’re on and take a few moments for yourself. If you’re not sure what to do in those few moments, author Barbara Ann Kipfer has plenty of ideas for you! The list-loving lexicographer and editor of Roget’s International Thesaurus joins Ned for a lighthearted chat about recognizing the simple things in life that bring you joy.

Barbara’s books mentioned in this episode:

5,203 Things To Do Instead Of Looking At Your Phone

14,000 Things To Be Happy About

Dr. Hallowell’s new book, ADHD 2.0, comes out January 12th. Pre-order Now!  Click here to pre-order your copy of ADHD 2.0.

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Thanks to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness! Dr. H takes OmegaBrite supplements every day and that’s why he invited them to sponsor his podcast. SAVE 20% on your first order at OmegaBriteWellness.com with the promo code: Podcast2020.

Click HERE to learn more about our sponsor, Landmark College, in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently. Dr. H has an honorary degree from Landmark!

Do you have a question or guest suggestion? Send an email with your thoughts to [email protected].

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode is made possible by our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness. I’ve taken their Omega-3 supplements for many years and so has my wife, and that’s why I invited them to sponsor my podcast. I’m proud to have them. You can find all of their products online at omegabritewellness.com and brite is intentionally misspelled, B-R-I-T-E Omegabritewellness.com. This episode is also sponsored by Landmark College. Another institution that I have warm personal relationship with in Putney Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently. Learn more at lcdistraction.org.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, and welcome to distraction. I’m your host, Dr. Ned Hallowell. No matter pandemic or not, we’re all becoming quite addicted, if not addicted, at least to [inaudible 00:01:04] to our various screens and other electronic devices. And we have a guest today who has a book out titled 5203 Things to Do Instead of Looking at Your Phone. She’s pretty remarkable. This lady has written 80 other books, including 14,000 Things to Be Happy About, that has over 1.2 million copies in print. And I can tell you that’s a staggering number. She has a PhD in linguistics, a PhD in archeology, a PhD in Buddhist studies and a BS in physical education. My gosh. Barbara Ann Kipfer, did I pronounce that right?

Barbara Kipfer:
Yes, you did. I’m a hundred years.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You’re amazing. And it’s an incredible. 80 books and three PhDs and a degree in physical education. Did you have a favorite sport?

Barbara Kipfer:
I wanted to be a football coach. That was the plan. I loved basketball, but I wanted to be a football coach. And then I got to college and my advisor said, “Really? You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, you marched to the beat of your own drum.

Barbara Kipfer:
So I ended up being a sports’ writer, which was great, but I was working in Chicago and that meant working late at night until the wee hours of the morning in a big, big city. So I said, “What else can I do with words?” And I thought about dictionaries because I had read them. That was the kind of book I like to read, it was dictionaries. So I became a lexicographer and that’s what I’ve been doing for 40 years.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wow. Well, you don’t write sports anymore?

Barbara Kipfer:
I don’t, but I am very much interested in writing some books about sports in my future life.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I’d love to ask you a few questions about that. So you became a lexicographer. I wrote my undergraduate thesis in college about a lexicographer.

Barbara Kipfer:
Are you serious?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I’m dead serious.

Barbara Kipfer:
Who did you write about?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Samuel Johnson.

Barbara Kipfer:
Oh, there you go.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. The first dictionary of the English language. He also wrote a few other things, and his definition in his dictionary of a lexicographer was a harmless drudge.

Barbara Kipfer:
I know. A harmless drudge.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Exactly. But you’re much more harmful than that, I think.

Barbara Kipfer:
Well, I don’t know. I am a drudge though. You see how much I like to work?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes, that’s wonderful.

Barbara Kipfer:
The thought of retirement is-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Don’t do it-

Barbara Kipfer:
My husband will tell you, not something I like to entertain.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Don’t do it until you have to. I’m 70 years old and they’ll have to carry me out, but I’ll do this as long as my brain allows me to.

Barbara Kipfer:
Well, my first thought when this pandemic started was I’m going to lose my job. And by golly, thank goodness I still have it. And it’s just amazing. I thought the company I worked for would start going downhill and they’ve been rising. You can’t predict things.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. No, you sure can’t.

Barbara Kipfer:
Everything you worry about doesn’t happen, everything you don’t worry about that’s what’s going to happen.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So I’m sure all of our listeners are waiting with bated breath to hear some of the 5,200 and three things we can do, instead of-

Barbara Kipfer:
You think we’re going to give some away, huh?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. Give some away.

Barbara Kipfer:
Well, here’s the thing. When I first got an iPad, which was a while ago, I’m not an early adopter, but I’m a fairly early adopter. I would leave the thing. It would just be there for emergencies. I never looked at it. The kids and my husband would say, “Why do you have an iPad? You never use it.” Now, the thing is another appendage. I actually probably use it more than my computer. And it’s just addictive. When I finally picked it up and started using it, it became addictive. I think that’s why phones are for a lot of people. My phone stays in my purse and I don’t use it. But the iPad that became my thing, I guess. And if I don’t have something to do reading a book, petting the cat, doing something useful, I pick the thing up for no reason and I just scan and say, “What app can I open and look something up?”

Barbara Kipfer:
It’s not good. I don’t have to explain that to anybody. It’s not good. So I started thinking, I love to make lists. I had told my publisher, Workman Publishing, many times I had ideas for things to do for people, things to do at the beach, things to do at a museum that were a little different, like a little out of the line sort of what you would normally do in those places. And then finally, my editor about two years ago, Mary Ellen ONeill said, “Why don’t we do a book about things to do, but make it about instead of using your phone.” Which was a brilliant idea. I’m going to give her credit because I didn’t come up with that part of it. So this is about what you can do when you’re about to pick up your phone or you’ve been messing with your phone. And then you say, “Wait a minute, how useful is this for my brain?”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Over the past few months, I’ve spoken to my friend, the founder and creator of Omega Brite Wellness, Dr. Carol Locke, about the benefits of taking Omega Brite’s, Omega-3s, CBD and other supplements. Here’s a clip from one of those conversations. Now there are many different products, brands of fish oil. Why is Omega Brite the best?

Dr. Carol Locke:
What I can speak to with Omega Brite is it’s a very different formula than typically what you can get in the store or online. And Omega Brite is clinically proven. We have over 10 studies in major academic centers showing Omega Brite improving mood, helping with bipolar, with depression, with ADHD, with anxiety, with inflammation. So it’s a very proven product for you to gain these benefits. And these benefits, we know, come from Omega Brite. You can’t get that with a typical Omega-3, which has say 180 milligrams of EPA in it. That just isn’t going to provide that benefit.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Distraction listeners, you can save 20% on your first order at omegabritewellness.com by using the promo code podcast2020. I want to tell you about Landmark College in beautiful Putney, Vermont. It is the best college in the world for students who learn differently with ADHD, for other learning differences or autism spectrum disorder. It’s fully accredited, not-for-profit offering bachelor’s and associate degrees, bridge programs, online dual enrollment courses for high school students and summer programs. They use a strength-based model at landmark, which is the model that I certainly have developed and subscribed to.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
To give students the skills and strategies they need to achieve their goals in life and really expand upon what they believe they’re capable of doing. It is just a wonderful place. And I can’t say enough good about it. I myself have an honorary degree from landmark college of which I am very proud. Landmark College in Putney, Vermont is the college of choice for students who learn differently. To learn more, go to lcdistraction.org. That’s lcdistraction.org. Okay. Let’s get back to today’s topic. Can you give us some of the 5,203 things I, or anyone else can do instead of looking at our phones?

Barbara Kipfer:
My idea for it is you open the book to just any place, just randomly open up because it is a random list. So I’m going to do that now. I’m going to open it and it says, play a game of paintball. Okay. Roll around in your office chair, dance in the moonlight, they could bake a dessert, interview a person you admire. I didn’t make that up, it’s really in the book. Feed a squirrel carefully, excuse a blunder, frame something you painted, invite friends for a hike, make a salad, create a space to do yoga, open a drawer and sort the contents. There are a quite a few in here. Little things to do around your house that you may have put off, forgotten about, or really need a reminder of. So here’s one, picnic on the fire escape, map out your ideal road trip, flip or turn the mattress, open stuck windows, donate your old books, balance on tiptoe, play in autumn leaves and eat all your spinach.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
These are great. And how did you come up with them? Did you just sort of sit down and let your mind wander?

Barbara Kipfer:
I did that. And what I did was because I’ve written a lot of list books. I kind of just page through those to trigger some ideas, because it’s really easy to think of things to do with your devices. So I figured you got to get back into the mindset of thinking about what things involve no devices. So I use my other list books that seemed like a fair enough way of going about it. I looked at some books that were written for kids. Most of them were pretty dated about things kids could do and things kids could do outside in the backyard and things like that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Sounds fun.

Barbara Kipfer:
It wasn’t easy getting to this number. I’m pretty good at making lists and I’m pretty good at making lists where I don’t repeat myself, but I needed a lot of help double checking the manuscript afterwards to make sure I did not just repeat something like they’re slightly different wording.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You came up with 5,203, but that’s nothing compared to your book about 14,000 things to be happy about.

Barbara Kipfer:
Yeah. But it’s nothing compared to my database, which is on my website, which has 176,000 things to be happy about.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
176,000 things to be happy-

Barbara Kipfer:
176,000. And I can tell you, there’s no repeats in that either.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
How in the world?

Barbara Kipfer:
I’ve been doing that since I was in sixth grade. So now we’re talking about 50 plus years that I’ve been writing down things to be happy about. Somebody who interviewed me said, you must have done three or four a day during this whole time. And I do, I just still find so many things to write down that are things to be happy about.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Can you name off the top of your head some of your favorite things to be happy about?

Barbara Kipfer:
Oh yeah. Blueberry muffins, that was my first entry. I love things just simple stuff like the feeling of receiving a genuine compliment. That is something we remember for a long time.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, that’s a very good one.

Barbara Kipfer:
Study hall in the school, hot tomato soup. I have a lot of food entries. Somebody asked me once, “Why are there so many food entries?” And I said, “It’s better to read about food than eat all of it.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. That’s really cool.

Barbara Kipfer:
And most of the stuff that I write into the database, which… When the book was published, I said to Peter Workman, I said, “Now, what do I do?” And he says, “What do you mean now what do you do? Don’t stop. You’ve done it up to now. Just keep writing down what you like.” And that was very inspirational to hear. A book being published doesn’t mean you should stop doing, what’s your favorite thing to do.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Absolutely not, Barbara.

Barbara Kipfer:
So I read things that authors write that are so poignant. Here’s a phrase, the closing eyelids of the day. I read that somewhere and it’s like poetry.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes. And you have the soul of a poet, but the mind of a lexicographer.

Barbara Kipfer:
Right. Well, remember dictionaries are actually lists to. So dictionary [inaudible 00:16:08]. I’m the editor of the Roget’s International Thesaurus, that is one big list there.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wow. You’re a regular genius, Barbara. I’m amazed.

Barbara Kipfer:
No, I just work hard. No genius.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
No, you have a lot to work with. You’ve got massive talent. Well, listen, we’re out of time, but what a great read for anyone who wants to just keep something by your bed, 14,000 Things to Be Happy About and 5,203 Things to Do Instead of Looking at Your Phone by Barbara Ann Kipfer, what a wonderful kind of book to have right next to you. And I can tell every single one of those things is something that all of us could benefit from doing instead of looking at our phone. Thank you so much for joining me and joining my wonderful audience, who I’m sure-

Barbara Kipfer:
Thanks for the invitation. I enjoy your work very much.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Thank you so much. Thank you so much, Barbara. Well, that’s it for today. Thanks so much to Barbara for joining me. Her book, 5,203 Things to Do Instead of Looking at Your Phone is available online wherever you buy your books, or you can click the link in our show notes, and please continue to reach out to us at [email protected] That’s [email protected] and follow Distraction on your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We’re trying to really beef up our social media presence. And please remember to tell your friends about this podcast. We want to keep growing our wonderful Distraction community. And while I’m praising social media, I should also say you should get Barbara’s book. So you won’t just stay glued to social media.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. The podcast is recorded and mixed by the super talented Scott Persson, a genius in his own right and produced by the equally talented genius laden, Sarah Guertin. I’m your host, Dr. Ned Hallowell saying goodbye for now. The episode you just heard was made possible by my good friends at Omega Brite Wellness. I take their supplements every day and that’s why I invited them to sponsor my podcast. Shop online at Omega Brite and that’s B-R-I-T-Ewellness.com.

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