Things to Do Instead of Listening to Your iPod

I’m inviting everyone to join me on Wednesday, February 29th for No iPod Day. The only rule of no iPod day is you can’t listen to music using earphones.

The goal of this challenge is to become more aware of how I’m often tuning myself out from the world, blocking off my ear canals and pumping music directly into my brain. I’m doing this, in short, because I think I use my iPod too much. I want to see what it’s like without one, just to try it out.

So let’s say you buy the idea that it’s good to take a break from your iPod, if even for a day. What can do you instead of listening to your headphones?

I practiced this last week on my trip to New York. I didn’t go the whole way without headphones, but I did keep them off during my 30 minutes on the NYC subway, as a way of practicing. Here are some things I found worth doing:

  • Look around. Notice people. Count how many people are wearing headphones. I was expecting to find that more than half the people would be wearing them, but I was way off. It was much less. I’d say almost as little as 10% of the people were wearing headphones.
  • Listen to your own thoughts. What do you think about when you’re just riding around? Where do your thoughts go? Try to notice the thoughts flitting through your brain but then let them go and return to just standing or sitting there. This is a form of meditation, and it’s quite relaxing.
  • Wonder. Let’s say you’re on a train. Take a minute to think about who built the train, where all the parts for the train came from, who laid the train tracks, who drives the train, who uses the train. You might not be on a train, but wherever you are, take a minute to appreciate it.

These are just a few ideas. When I tried them last week, I found it very relaxing. This is important — avoiding my iPod was not some sort of punishment, it was an opportunity to be a bit more aware of my surroundings and interested in them.

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