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How Older Technologies Can Keep Us More Mindful



Our culture strongly promotes the idea that the newest technology is always the best. That belief is spread by its makers with their own incentives for encouraging us to always buy the latest version of every product. However, sometimes using older technology can be better in terms of reaching our mindfulness goals.

Today’s tip is to not automatically reach for the shiny new toy. Instead, be aware of your options so you can make wise and mindful choices about which technology to use in any particular situation. 

I’ve give a few specific examples, but I encourage you to apply the same principle to all aspects of your life. Focus your attention on becoming aware of any opportunities to use older technology or no technology at all when you want to get something done.

Writing the Old-Fashioned Way

Most of us do nearly all of our writing on devices. When was the last time you wrote an actual letter to someone? Using pen and paper is just one of the writing options you should explore:

    • I often write first drafts of longer things such as essays or work memos by hand. I find it easier for me to dump out my ideas without distraction or editing that way.
    • You may also want to try some of the distraction-free word processors that we’ve mentioned before if you want to stay more focused while writing. They show you little more than a blank screen so that you can stay focused on the words you are writing and not the toolbar, menu, or any other visual elements.
    • Some authors have even switched back to using old-fashioned typewriters for their novels and other books — or at least their first drafts.
Try out different options and see what works best for you.

Although I use an app on my phone to keep track of my tasks, sometimes I find it more effective to quickly jot them down on a small piece of paper so that they’re easier and faster for me to find and look at as I move from task to task.

Efficiency and focus are not the only reasons you might want to try using older forms of technology for writing. If you want to convey a personal and heartfelt message to someone (such as a thank-you or condolences for a loss), many people find it more meaningful to receive that kind of message in hand-written form than by email or even a pre-printed card. 

You may find that writing out the message longhand helps you focus not only on the content of what you’re writing but the feeling behind it. You might experience that feeling more deeply than you would on a device.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Now I’ll use the flip side of writing: reading. While I do an incredible amount of reading on devices, scientific research confirms that attempting to read anything longer than a paragraph on a modern device’s screen can be extremely frustrating and counterproductive. This is in large part due to the number of distractions that our devices present to us while we are reading.

The good news is that many other options are available to us, and they don’t all involve giving up on technology completely.

For reading books, I have an older black-and-white Kindle that only shows me the text of the book. This is a much more pleasant and calming way to read, and it helps me absorb more of what I’m reading than on a smartphone or computer. 

Think about the size of the screen that you use to read different types of messages too. I don’t know anyone who’d want to read a long piece on an Apple Watch. On the other hand, a smartphone can be a great way to read text messages. As a general rule, most people find it easier to read longer works on bigger screens, but try out different options to determine what works best for you.

I don’t want to suggest wasting paper at the expense of the environment, but in some cases, I print out documents to read them on paper — particularly if I need to provide the author with feedback on what has been written because I find it both easier to stay focused on what I’m reading and to jot down notes on paper than on a word processor. Despite all of the advances with screens and document software, I still find it easier to quickly glance back at previous parts of a document on paper than on a screen. 

When I’m done, I either scan the document with my hand-written edits or type the edits into the document on a word processor.

Consider Your Options

Writing and reading are just two examples of how many different technological options are available to help you avoid the common trap of automatically turning to the latest technology or whatever technology you happen to be using at the moment.

We all tend to engage in that kind of technological inertia or let it dictate which technologies we use and how we use them. But if we apply some mindfulness to pause, step back, and reflect on what our intention is for the task at hand while considering our options, we can then make a conscious choice based on our intention and understanding of our current situation.

As a result, we will be less likely to rush ahead automatically and more likely to engage in that task in a way that is not only more productive but also more satisfying.

How to Prioritize Responding to Important Messages


Have you ever planned to respond to a particular message and then found yourself replying to new ones as they arrive? Of course you have. We’ve all done it. Continue reading How to Prioritize Responding to Important Messages

How to Mindfully Use Your GPS


I have no natural sense of direction. As a result, I think the GPS is one of the greatest inventions in human history. I rely on the GPS on my phone to get me almost everywhere and appreciate it not only because of its obvious purpose but also because it reduces the stress of driving, walking, and traveling to new places. It gives me the confidence to go places on my own that I normally wouldn’t try to travel to without a GPS. 

At the same time, I’ve become aware of how overly reliant I’ve become on my GPS and how I tend to use it in a way that does not necessarily help me become engaged with, aware of, and attuned to my surroundings.

I’ve recently tried to start applying mindfulness to my use of the GPS, and here’s what I’ve noticed and learned so far.
Continue reading How to Mindfully Use Your GPS

Apple and Google’s Digital Health Initiatives


Both Google and Apple recently announced major initiatives to address the problems of digital distraction, stress, and anxiety. These will affect all of their products.

Each of the companies has a different name for the department responsible for the initiatives. Apple calls it “Digital Health” whereas Google calls it “Digital Well Being.” Right at the top of Google’s Digital Well Being webpage, it says, “Great Technology should improve life, not distract from it.”

A Great Message

The initiatives are going to include a variety of features for their products, like an enhanced version of Do Not Disturb and other ways of giving users more control over how and when they’re interrupted or distracted by their devices. Some features will provide you with in-depth, quantitative information about how frequently you’re using your phone and what you use it for.

I think the details of these initiatives aren’t as important as the magnitude of the message Apple and Google are sending. 

Like most companies on the internet, they have based a significant part of their business model on distracting people and encouraging them to maximize how much time they spend on their products and devices.

The launch of these company-wide initiatives is a pretty groundbreaking and historic event for two of the big five tech companies. The fact that they’ve decided to create and make major announcements about these initiatives shows that they are taking the problems seriously enough to invest in shifting their direction to enable people to live more balanced technological lives.

A Shift in Direction

It’s clear that some of the features of these initiatives will help people to spend less time using the devices and apps that Google and Apple make and sell. They must have decided that this would be more helpful to them overall from a business perspective.

I’m sure part of it was in response to increasing demand from individuals and businesses to address the problems of constant distraction and overuse of technology. Some of it may have been the result of a desire for people to use their devices in limited ways rather than not at all to avoid distraction. I don’t know what all of the reasons were behind these decisions. To a certain extent, they don’t matter to me.

In the end, it’s certainly a positive that these two huge tech companies have taken the initiative to display that they care about the well being of their users. I applaud Google and Apple for taking these steps and moving their future technology development plans in a direction that will give people more transparent information about how they’re using their products and more power over how they use them.

With all that said, both companies have previously taken other steps to address digital addiction and all of the issues we discuss on this blog. Let’s stay mindful of how they implement these major initiatives in response to our needs.

Let’s Start Planning for Meetings as if There’s No Internet


For those of you who are old enough to remember what it was like to attend a meeting before the internet, the only opportunity to speak to that person was at the scheduled appointment.

I remember when I started working as a lawyer and I was going to meet with a client. What would I do? I would prepare!

Continue reading Let’s Start Planning for Meetings as if There’s No Internet

How Social Media Has Poisoned Us



This blog post was inspired by an article published by The Guardian on April 9.

While the write-up isn’t strictly focused on technology, that topic is still explored and the content is worth addressing.

Continue reading How Social Media Has Poisoned Us

Positive, Negative and Neutral Posting on Social Media


We all know that the image people portray of themselves on social media is highly selective and curated. People often post only the information that paints them in a positive light and makes them seem as interesting as possible. As a result, their social media lives don’t always reflect their full reality.

Continue reading Positive, Negative and Neutral Posting on Social Media

Turn Off Autoplay for Videos


Do you ever find yourself binge-watching on YouTube, Netflix, or any other site/app on which you view videos? It’s so easy to get lost in the content and then wonder where the time went.

To minimize this issue, turn off autoplay so that when you’re done watching one video, the next one doesn’t start automatically.

Continue reading Turn Off Autoplay for Videos

Group Text Messaging: Productive or Annoying?


Trying to make plans with a group of people can be challenging. Obviously, everyone has their own schedule and it can be hard to coordinate a mutually convenient time for all of you to meet up.

Many of us turn to group text messaging as a quicker alternative to group email. However, receiving text messages in a particular thread or conversation with one or a group of people can quite simply be annoying — especially if you keep getting notifications within that thread!

Continue reading Group Text Messaging: Productive or Annoying?

The Mind Can Also Follow the Body

As mindfulness in the West is picking up and taking off as a popular movement, I’m getting the feeling that many people are being introduced to it as a purely intellectual and mental practice. After all, the word “mind” is in mindfulness.

However, there are different ways to achieve a state of mindfulness that can be accessed beyond your mind. The key is also moving and training your body.

Continue reading The Mind Can Also Follow the Body