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Tag: distraction

10 Mindfulness-Based Tools to Reduce Distractions and Improve Your Focus

It’s a daily struggle.

You sit down at your computer, ready to tackle your day. And then it happens.

A notification pops up – you’ve got three new emails. Before you can open them, there’s an instant message on the bottom of your screen.

Then you hear your phone ping and think, “Is that the sound of a calendar reminder or just a reply on my social media post? I’d better check before I start working…” And so it goes.

Sound familiar?

In today’s notification-obsessed world, it’s harder than ever to focus. Distractions like these can really add up.

Not only do you lose time reacting, but it also takes time to refocus. In fact, according to a study from the University of California Irvine, it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to a task after being interrupted.

Fortunately, technology doesn’t always have to be a distraction– it can also be a tool to help you focus. We’ve gathered 10 of the best mindfulness-based tools that put the power back in your hands.

These technologies will help you focus by blocking interruptions, removing distractions, getting you in the zone, and reminding you to take short breaks for better productivity. Ready to have a more mindful work day?

Let’s take a look!

Tools to Block Interruptions


Our culture often feels the need to respond to everything the moment it arrives, but it’s really not necessary.

Tools like these allow you to pause the continuous stream of information for a period of time, so you can concentrate without interruption. You decide when to check emails, texts, and instant messages– not the person sending them to you.

Inbox Pause by Boomerang

Inbox Pause stops new email from coming into your Inbox until you’re ready. You can receive emails automatically on a schedule of your choice.

If you feel anxious about not checking emails immediately, you can set up an auto-responder to let people know when you check messages and how they can reach you in case of an emergency.

Inbox Pause is part of an email productivity tool called Boomerang, which is available through Google, Outlook, and iPhone. They have a free plan that includes the inbox pause feature.

Windows 10 Focus Assist or Do Not Disturb for Mac


Regardless of whether you use Windows or a Mac, you can pause notifications on your computer. Microsoft calls it Focus Assist in Windows 10 (known as Quiet Hours in earlier versions).

On your mac, it’s called Do Not Disturb. These tools work for desktop computers, laptops, and tablets. Take time to get familiar with the options, rather than letting the default setting disrupt your day.

Do Not Disturb for Android and iPhone


Just like the tools above, you can pause notifications on your phone, both Android and iPhone. Many of us are juggling multiple devices – you may have a laptop open, the phone next to you, and tablet across the room.

Make sure you check out all the do not disturb settings available. Otherwise, you might find yourself reacting to whatever technology is making a noise!

mindfulness tools
Inbox Pause by Boomerang gives you amazing control over your email. You decide when emails arrive. Any exceptions are easy to set up.

Tools to Avoid Procrastination


We’ve all fallen into that black hole of social media. Whether you love reading about the latest Game of Thrones episode, watching cat videos, or commenting on politics, we’ve all been there.

Two of these tools let you limit access to certain websites or apps for periods of time. The third tool is geared toward writers who want a distraction-free interface to avoid any temptation to stray from their work.

Freedom


Freedom is a website and app blocker. This tool has some great customization features to make it work for you. You can block only certain sites, the entire internet, or everything except the sites you need.

Freedom also allows you to schedule your blocks in advance – you can even save frequently used blocks so you don’t have to set it up every time. Think you can be sneaky and check your phone to access a blocked site? Freedom can sync blocks across all of your devices.

They offer a seven-day free trial. After that, you can pay $6.99 per month, $29 per year or $129 for lifetime access.

FocusMe


FocusMe offers a similar service to Freedom. Like Freedom, you can block specified websites and apps using a scheduler or as needed.

However, it doesn’t sync across devices (yet). It works with Mac, Windows, and Android – iOS is coming soon.

FocusMe has some additional features like break reminders and a built-in Pomodoro timer.

This is a popular productivity technique that uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. FocusMe is a nice all-in-one tool if you’re trying to be more mindful and productive.

At the moment, their Android version is free. For Mac and Windows, it’s $6.99 per month, $30 per year, or $119.99 for lifetime access.

FocusWriter


FocusWriter is a simple, distraction-free writing environment. No icons, no toolbars, no notifications – nothing to take away from your writing.

To access additional features of FocusWriter, you can move your mouse to the edges of the screen. Then you can use spell check, choose a theme, set up timers or alarms, and even assign writing goals.

This program is available for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X for a voluntary donation.

mindfulness apps
Tools like Freedom allow you to police yourself when it comes to internet usage. Customize the blocks based on your personal weaknesses.

Tools to Help You Get in the Zone


Although the jury is still out on the connection between music and focus, many people report that music (and certain sounds in general) enhance their focus.

These tools offer two ways to use music for greater concentration.

Focus@Will


Focus@Will is a unique music streaming service. They offer specially curated and produced music tracks designed to improve your focus.

They claim, “Scientists have discovered that depending on your personality type, there is a specific type of music that when engineered just right, puts your brain into a flow state making you hyperfocused and exponentially more productive.”

Based on their research, they assign types of music based on a questionnaire you answer when signing up. However, you can listen to any of the music in their collections. Focus@Will offers a two-week trial, then it’s $89.95 per year.

Noisli


For some people, music can be distracting in and of itself. You might prefer a little background noise instead.

Noisli is a site that allows you to create your own set of background sounds by combining clips from rain, water, wind, and more.

As one user says, “Perfect for working to — enough background noise to help me concentrate but not distracting enough to prevent me from being able to read or write. I love being able to layer the sounds and change the volume simultaneously as well!”

Noisli is available for $1.99 on Google Play and the App Store. It’s also free on the Chrome Web Store.

mindfulness tool
Focus@Will offers over 25 channels of specially curated and mixed music based on neuroscience research. By taking a questionnaire, they’ll recommend the best channels for you.

Tools that Remind You to Take a Break


We’ve talked a lot about staying focused on your work, but taking short breaks is also important to maintain overall productivity.

Instead of mindlessly taking a social media break, try these two tools to pause, take a deep breath, and recenter yourself.

Do Nothing for 2 Minutes


Do Nothing for 2 Minutes is brilliantly simple. It displays a countdown timer for two minutes on top of a peaceful nature scene. If you move your mouse or touch the keyboard, it will start again. Available for free on any browser.

Time Out


Time Out promotes a similar idea – that you need to pause throughout the day. However, it has more features.

The default settings offer a “Normal” break (typically for 10 minutes every hour) and a “Micro” break (a brief pause of typically 15 seconds every 15 minutes). This helps you remember not to tense up too much for long periods. You can change or remove either kind of break, or add new ones.

Available on the App Store for free or you can make a donation.

Do Nothing for 2 Minutes is exactly what it sounds like. A simple way to take a mindful break in your day.

You don’t have to be a victim of constant interruptions.

We expect to see many more mindfulness-based tools enter the marketplace in the coming years.

Are there any others you’ve found that help you reduce distractions and improve your focus? Let us know in the comments!

10 Best Mindfulness Meditation Apps to Manage the Craziness Daily Life

If you’re feeling frazzled by the demands of modern life, you’re not alone.

According to a recent Gallup poll, 79% of Americans feel stressed every day. But we have good news. You don’t have to jet off to a month-long meditation retreat to reap the benefits of mindfulness.

It may sound counterintuitive, but your smartphone (you know, that thing in your pocket that drives you crazy?) might just be your best tool for managing stress and helping you focus. Meditation apps are an inexpensive way to test the waters with a new mindfulness practice.

Ready to give it a try? We’ve gathered the ten best meditation apps ideal for beginners, but with room to grow.

Let’s take a look at each one to give you a sense of what they offer.

Mindfulness App1. Headspace

Headspace earned the top score from a study by the Queensland University of Technology after their review of 700+ mindfulness apps. This app has hundreds of themed sessions on everything from stress to focusing. But don’t worry if you’ve never meditated before.

There’s a free Basics course that teaches the essentials of meditation and mindfulness. Headspace also has sleep meditations and sleep sounds. Available on Google Play and the App Store.

What we love most: Headspace offers meditation tracks for kids too. They’ll practice breathing exercises, visualizations and even try some focus-based meditation. They’re customized for three age groups: 5 and under, 6-8 and 9-12.

Cost: Free to download for the basic course; $12.99/month, $9.99 for students, $7.99 if paid annually

mindfulness app2. SmilingMind

Although SmilingMind isn’t as well known as a big player like HeadSpace, this app offers high-quality meditation programs carefully designed by psychologists and educators.

There are specific courses for different age groups, focusing on the mindfulness challenges of each developmental stage. They also have modules for workplace issues, sports training, and classrooms. Available on Google Play and the App Store.

What we love most: SmilingMind has a first of its kind program for expectant parents called “Mind the Bump.” The app helps individuals and couples in preparation for having a baby and becoming a new parent.

Cost: 100% free!

mindfulness app3. Mindfulness Daily

Mindfulness Daily is designed to support your commitment to practice mindfulness every day. This app makes it easy to fit meditation into your daily routine.

You have full control over reminders and routines that break your daily practice into small but highly effective and digestible mindful pauses, lessons, and practices. Available on the App Store. They’re working on an Android version.

What we love most: There’s a feature that offers a 15-second mindfulness pause for those times when you catch yourself in a stressful moment or on autopilot.

Cost: Free to download; additional meditation packs for $3.99 and $4.99

mindfulness app4. Insight Timer

Insight Timer offers over 15,000 guided meditations – all free! And there’s more added all the time. Once you find a teacher you enjoy, you can follow them to make sure you don’t miss any new content.

Be sure to check out our guided meditations on how to use technology more mindfully. Tap on “Meditations” and search for our founder “Robert Plotkin.”

There’s also a free course called “Learn to Meditate in 7 Days.” If you want plenty of options, you’ll find exactly the kind of support you need on Insight Timer. Available on Google Play and the App Store.

What we love most: Insight Timer encourages a community of meditators. The home screen tells you how many others are meditating with you at that moment. They also have over 200 lively discussion groups and local meet-ups run by users.

Cost: Free to download; large free library with the option to purchase items $1.99 – $59.99

mindfulness app5. 10% Happier

10% Happier says it’s the meditation app for fidgety skeptics. Sound like you? If you’re looking for a secular approach, 10% Happier offers simple, practical exercises to help you feel happier, sleep better, and calm your mind.

You’ll find daily videos and guided meditations and videos for coping with anxiety and stress and for activities like walking and falling asleep. Available on Google Play and the App Store.

What we love most: 10% Happier is a companion app for the book and podcast by the same name. The author (Dan Harris) frequently interviews well-respected teachers and scientists to learn more about how meditation can improve your daily life.

Cost: Seven-day free trial, subscriptions from $4.99 – $9.99

meditation app6. Calm

Calm is a Google Play Editor’s Choice for 2018. This app offers guided meditations, sleep stories, breathing programs, masterclasses, and relaxing music. They recently added ten-minute guided video lessons on mindful movement and gentle stretching.

Calm is an excellent app for those just starting to meditate. However, it also has hundreds of programs for more advanced users. Available on Google Play and the App Store.

What we love most: Calm is the only app to offer “sleep stories,” which are soothing tales read by well-known voices to help people unwind and fall into a deep sleep each evening. Like bedtime stories for adults!

Cost: Seven-day free trial, subscriptions are $59.99 annually (also offer lifetime at $399.99)

mindfulness app7. Meditation Timer Pro

Meditation Timer Pro is not as robust as the other options we’ve included so far, but it’s a helpful tool for keeping track of time while meditating.

It provides several timer options and a variety of chime sounds to gently remind you of the time. You can also log your sessions. Available on the App Store.

What we love most: Meditation Timer Pro integrates with Apple Watch, so you can easily meditate on the go. And if you want to share your progress, you can post to Facebook or Twitter.

Cost: $1.99

mindfulness app8. The Mindfulness App

The Mindfulness App is used by millions of meditators in over 130 countries. It has everything you need to get started and build a regular meditation practice.

There’s a five-day introduction to mindfulness course, guided and silent meditations from three to thirty minutes, meditation reminders, and statistics to help you view your progress. Available on Google Play and the App Store.

What we love most: The Mindfulness App allows you to create personalized meditations. You can choose a guided introduction from their library and then add bells and chimes at specific times to suit your needs.

Cost: Seven-day free trial, $9.99/month or $59.99 for one year

mindfulness app9. Buddhify

Buddhify set out to be a different kind of meditation app. In their words, “While other meditation apps need you to find ten or twenty minutes of quiet time per day, we know that even that can be a struggle to fit into an already busy day.

That’s why Buddhify focuses on mobile or on-the-go meditation, which you can do wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.” Available on Google Play and the App Store.

What we love most: Buddhify charges a low one-off fee because they believe that a good mindfulness and meditation app shouldn’t be something that only rich people can afford.

Cost: $2.99

mindfulness apps10. Stop, Breathe, & Think

Stop, Breathe, & Think has a unique approach that allows you to check in with your emotions and then recommends short, guided meditations, yoga, and acupressure videos.

Through a variety of activities, the app helps you tame your anxiety, reduce stress, breathe more mindfully, sleep better, and track your mood and progress. Available on Google Play and the App Store.

What we love most: They share 10% of their net revenue with Tools for Peace, a non-profit dedicated to helping at-risk youth experience the benefits of mindfulness and meditation.

Cost: Free to download; $9.99/month with other tiers available based on family use and annual payment

Hopefully, one of the apps on this list has just what you need to start a mindfulness practice.

Since many of them are free to download, we encourage you to test a few out and see what feels right. You’ll be viewing your smartphone in a whole new way!

Rather than a source of distraction, it will be your guide to a more peaceful state of mind.

Social Media: Taking a Break

For many of us, the holidays are a time when we spend precious connected moments with our loved ones. We may also engage in sacred rituals associated with these holidays. Regardless of how you celebrate the holidays — or even if you don’t celebrate them specifically — this may well be one of the few times during the year when you can enjoy the presence of your family and friends in person and celebrate your relationships together. Continue reading Social Media: Taking a Break

3 Easy Ways to Form a New Tech Habit


On this blog, we often provide tips for how to make more mindful, productive, and efficient use of technology. It’s easier to describe what to do than to actually create and engage in the habit of doing it. Suggesting that you don’t use your smartphone immediately upon waking up in the morning or within an hour of going to bed doesn’t make creating and following that habit easy to do. 

Today, I’ll offer three pointers that will improve your chances of forming a new and enduring technology habit.

Ease into It

Many of us try to create a new habit by just engaging in it directly. For example, if you want to practice not using your smartphone for an hour after you wake up, you might try going cold turkey right away. I’ve found that this approach often results in failure, as it doesn’t help change my behavior or reinforce the intended behavior.

Try easing into a habit like this: On the first night, start out by not using your phone for the last five minutes before you go to bed. That should be much easier than an hour. Practice that for a few days, a week, or until you feel like that habit is ingrained and does not need additional practice. Then increase the amount of time and keep expanding the habit in that way until you reach your original goal.

By easing into it, you may find that you’re more likely to create the habit than if you try to bite off the entire task from the beginning. Start with a smaller, more manageable version of it and increase it over time.

Make It Easy on Yourself

When I try to create a new habit for myself, I often do it in a very austere kind of way. This can work if I pose some structure around it, but it can be quite boring. Other than the reward of feeling like I’ve accomplished my goal, it doesn’t really create any other positive associations in my mind. As a result, I’ve found that trying to create a new habit in this way sometimes either fails or leads to habits that don’t stick.

With that said, there’s a wide variety of ways to make it easier to create the habit. For example, these are all things I’ve done and you can try:

  1. Enlist the help of your friends, family, and coworkers to support you. For example, they can provide reminders for you or even just give moral support.
  2. Use technology to set a reminder to do or not do something.
  3. Associate a positive feeling with this new habit. Focus and draw your attention to that positive feeling.
You may worry that these tricks are crutches. If you ask friends to remind you of something, you may feel like you’ll rely on them and may stop engaging in the habit altogether if they stop reminding you. On the flip side, sometimes we can do things to help us create a habit and supports for the habit, and once the habit is ingrained in our minds and bodies, we no longer need those initial supports to keep the habit going.

Be creative when thinking about what you might be able to do to help you form a new habit. In addition, make the trigger for engaging in it fun if that helps you.

Pay Attention to How You Feel Each Time After Engaging in the Habit

Say you’re practicing not using your phone before bed. Maybe you set an alarm 15 minutes before bed to remind yourself not to use your phone. When that 15 minutes is over, pay attention to how you feel now that you have not used your phone. Bringing my attention to how I feel after I’ve practiced something I want to form as a habit actually helps that habit to form better. It’s a way to bring mindfulness to the formation of a new habit to help enforce the behavior you’re trying to habituate in yourself.

Bear in mind that you can apply these tips to any kind of habits. I hope you find them helpful for any change that you are seeking.

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.

How to Manage the Pull of Your Smartphone

Do you ever feel like your smartphone is calling to you even when it’s just sitting in your pocket not doing anything? When your phone beeps, vibrates, or buzzes, do you ask yourself, “Why is my phone doing this to me?!?”

Continue reading How to Manage the Pull of Your Smartphone

Technology May Be the Reason You’ve Lost That Creative Spark

Whether you’re a writer, an artist, or simply trying to figure out a creative Technology May be the Reason You’ve Lost That Creative Sparksolution to a difficult problem, there’s one thing standing in your way. One thing that would have never been a problem 15 years ago! Just one little thing that’s blocking your way to thinking more creatively. What is it? Technology, of course.

Like we’ve discussed before, boredom has its benefits. But with technology around, we’re never truly bored or alone!

Continue reading Technology May Be the Reason You’ve Lost That Creative Spark

How to Take Care of Yourself, Even During The Busiest Days

In our busy lives, we’re always going, we’re always doing, and we’re always How to Take Care of Yourself, Even During The Busiest Dayshelping others. So where does this leave time for taking care of ourselves? For most of us, self-care falls on the back burner. We’re burning ourselves out by always helping others, which actually isn’t helping anyone—especially yourself.

Continue reading How to Take Care of Yourself, Even During The Busiest Days

Put Down Your Smartphone and Allow Yourself to “Space Out”

We’ve seen hilarious videos and stories of the problems smartphone distraction Put Down Your Smartphone and Allow Yourself to “Space Out”can cause—I mean, hilarious for us, rather embarrassing for them. Things like running into (and falling into) a water fountain in the middle of a city, or walking straight into a construction zone, both while staring at the phone screen. How are we so enthralled by our phones? How do we allow them to distract us so much? And what else are we missing out on if we’re missing these blatantly obvious obstacles in front of us?

Continue reading Put Down Your Smartphone and Allow Yourself to “Space Out”

The Case For Adding “Call Me” Back To Your Vocabulary

When you pick up your phone, how often are you using it to actually do what itthe-case-for-adding-call-me-back-to-your-vocabulary was first intended for? How often are you actually talking on the phone? And I don’t mean talking via text, or email, or some other form of digital communication. I mean actually talking. Picking up the phone and calling someone.

If you’re like most people today, your answer is probably something like “very rarely.”
Continue reading The Case For Adding “Call Me” Back To Your Vocabulary

Reduce Your Digital Clutter, Reduce Your Anxiety

Most people regularly (or at least semi-regularly) go through their stuff and Reduce Your Digital Clutter, Reduce Your Anxietydeclutter. We donate old clothes, we throw away broken items around the house, we host yard sales to sell off those things that we no longer want or need. It can feel cleansed and refreshing! So why should our digital clutter be any different?

Plus, eliminating digital clutter can have another benefit: reduced anxiety.

With everyone online account you have, with every device you own, your cyber security decreases. It’s great that you’re watching out for phishing and got strong, unique passwords on all your accounts, but what’s even more helpful to your cyber security—and your peace of mind—is cleaning things up!

Continue reading Reduce Your Digital Clutter, Reduce Your Anxiety

Technology Changes Us, And Generation Z Is Proof

We all know that each generation has different experiences, they grow up in a Technology Changes Us, And Generation Z Is Proofdifferent time, so it’s impossible not to! But is the latest generation, generation Z, missing out? Has their generation been destroyed by technology? We’ve all see the articles online saying things like “Millennials are killing fabric softener” or “Millennials are running the wine industry,” but what about the generation after them? The generation that is now beginning to reach early adulthood?

Generally, from generation-to-generation characteristics will change gradually. But Jean Twenge, a Psychology professor at San Diego State University, who has been studying the changes among generations for years, noticed a huge shift in the Z generation.

Continue reading Technology Changes Us, And Generation Z Is Proof

Ep. 7- Mark Bauerlein, Author of The Dumbest Generation: How Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans

Mark Bauerlein earned his doctorate in English at UCLA in 1988 & has taught at Mark BauerleinEmory since 1989, with a two-and-a-half year break in 2003-05 to serve as the Director, Office of Research & Analysis, at the National Endowment for the Arts. Apart from his scholarly work, he publishes in popular periodicals such as The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, The Washington Post, TLS, and Chronicle of Higher Education. His latest book, “The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don ‘t Trust Anyone Under 30)“, is available for purchase online.

Continue reading Ep. 7- Mark Bauerlein, Author of The Dumbest Generation: How Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans

6 Tasks We Should Recover From Daily – Part 1: Work & Tech

If you’re like most people, in the past you’ve probably thought something along 6-tasks-we-should-recover-from-daily-part-1-work-techthe lines of “wow, I’ve been so busy all day, but what did I accomplish?” Right? So we all know that there’s definitely a difference between being busy and being productive. In fact, many of us are just doing too much—we aren’t focusing finishing on one individual task. Instead, we’re doing many things at once and not finishing any of them!

We need to keep up and keep going is driving people to do more, but actually live with less.

Continue reading 6 Tasks We Should Recover From Daily – Part 1: Work & Tech

Ep. 5-Tiffany Shlain, Creator of the “Technology Shabbat”

For the past eight years, Emmy-nominated filmmaker Tiffany Shlain, her husband & two children have embraced “Technology Shabbat”, a modernized version of the Jewish day of rest, where they break away from digital screens & other technology for 24 hours. Shlain joins host Robert Plotkin to discuss how “Technology Shabbat” works & doesn’t prevent her & her husband from embracing technology in their everyday lives. Tiffany Shlain is an American filmmaker, author, & public speaker regarded as an internet pioneer for her work, including founding the Webby Awards, co-founding the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences & running the Moxie Institute Film Studio & Lab. She lives in Northern California with husband Goldberg whom she frequently collaborates with on art installations & other projects. Find more info on Tiffany Shlain’s “Technology Shabbat” at http://www.moxieinstitute.org/technology_shabbats.

Continue reading Ep. 5-Tiffany Shlain, Creator of the “Technology Shabbat”

Track Your Screen Time with Moment

How much time do you spend on your phone each day? I bet it’s probably more track-your-screen-time-with-momentthan you’d expect! According to a new study, U.S. consumers spend an average of 5 hours per day on their phones. That means that about ⅓ of your time awake is spent staring at a phone screen. If you ask me, that’s a lot of time wasted. And nearly 20% of that time is being spent on Facebook—FOMO, anyone?

Continue reading Track Your Screen Time with Moment

Is Your Time Well Spent?

I know I’ve talked about this so many times before, but let me say it again for is-your-time-well-spentthose of you that are new to the blog or new to mindfulness: technology is taking over our minds.

Whether we realize it or not it’s happening. And a movement that goes by the name of Time Well Spent it looking that help change that! Fighting back against digital distraction. Asking technology companies to create app designs that “empower us and reduce pollution to our attention.”

Continue reading Is Your Time Well Spent?

Ask Yourself These 5 Questions When You Reach for Your Phone

You’re about to start cooking dinner when you have a question about the ask-yourself-these-5-questions-when-you-reach-for-your-phonerecipe… what can you substitute for tarragon? So you pull out your phone to type your question into Google. But what happens first? You see a new text message, notifications from 3 different apps… By the time you’ve finished checking everything out you’ve completely forgotten why you originally grabbed your phone in the first place.

Does that sound like something that’s happened to you? It’s probably happened to most of us!

Continue reading Ask Yourself These 5 Questions When You Reach for Your Phone

Study: Using Mindfulness to Help Children with ADHD

In theory, mindfulness sounds like the perfect solution to helping children that study-using-mindfulness-to-help-children-with-adhdsuffer from ADHD. Mindfulness helps us become more aware, it helps us focus, control our thoughts, and manage our emotions—things that those with ADHD have trouble with.

Today, people are trying to get away from using medication to treat their problems and turning to natural solutions like mindfulness and meditation, from pain management to anxiety disorders. People are beginning to learn that expensive (and often addictive) medications aren’t always the best answer. And parents of children with ADHD and beginning to think the same thing. So is mindfulness their answer?

Continue reading Study: Using Mindfulness to Help Children with ADHD

Technology is Taking Over Minds Whether We Notice or Not

Technology is such an integral part of our lives, and as technology evolves and technology-is-taking-over-minds-whether-we-notice-or-notbecomes more useful, it also becomes more manipulative and addictive. And the things is, the creators of these technologies know that—they design their websites or apps to work in this way. Sometimes they do it unknowingly, but more often than not it’s something that’s purposely built into the design.

If we’re not mindful about how we’re using many of the technologies that are so prevalent in our lives, then it can be easy to let it control us.

Continue reading Technology is Taking Over Minds Whether We Notice or Not

Screen Time is Changing Young Brains, but Could it be Good?

Today children are exposed to screens of all sorts from an early age: TV screens, tfm-12-9phone screens, tablet screens, etc. A huge change from the times when the most screen-time children got was watching Saturday morning cartoons. Today we have 24/7 cartoon channels, games on phones, tablets, computers, and even devices made specifically for children. As much as we’d love for our children to get outside and play as often as we did, or sit down with a pile of building blocks and create their own entertainment for hours-on-end, that just isn’t the reality of today any longer. So what does this shift to more screen time mean for young developing minds?

Continue reading Screen Time is Changing Young Brains, but Could it be Good?

Digital Distraction is Changing Our Ever-Evolving Minds

Distraction isn’t something new, throughout history humans have always been Digital Distraction is Changing Our Ever-Evolving Mindsfaced with distraction, but today it seems as though distraction has become a bigger issue. But why is that? A large part of it is due to technology, something that’s supposed to make our lives easier—and often times succeeds—also has the ability to make life harder by being such a huge distractor in our everyday lives.

When a notification pops up on your phone (a feature that’s supposed to be helpful) while you’re in the middle of an important task, or even in the middle of a family dinner, do you check it? If you’re like most people, then the answer is probably yes, even if for just a moment.

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Taking Control of Notifications to Take Back Your Attention

notificationsReceiving a reminder of an upcoming meeting or task from our smartphones can be a great way to remember to be somewhere to get something done on time.  All too often, however, our smartphones beep, flash, and vibrate at us every few minutes to provide us with information we don’t really need.  And we know that regaining our attention after such a distraction can take ten minutes or more, particularly if we were engaged in deep thought when interrupted.

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Making Email Slow Again

When I first began to use email in earnest, while a student at MIT in the early 1990s, writing and reading emails had much the same email-iconfeeling as writing and reading handwritten letters.  By far the easiest way to write an email was to go to one of a small number of computer clusters on campus and log in to a computer terminal.  The people I sent email messages to were few and far between, and they also had relatively infrequent access to an email-enabled computer.  So if you sent an email to someone, you expected that they might not read it and respond for at least a few days, if not much longer.  All of this encouraged the writing of messages that were relatively long and that provided information that could be quite out of date, much like a handwritten letter.

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Take a Break to Stay Focused

stay foucsed

The workaholics among us (I can count myself in that group too much of the time) often feel that taking a break is a sign of weakness, or at least will reduce our productivity.  In reality, and perhaps counter intuitively, taking breaks can help you to rejuvenate and regain your focus, and thereby increase your overall effectiveness and productivity, whether the work you are doing is physical, mental, or a combination of both.

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Protecting Yourself Against Yourself: Blocking Apps for Focus

screenshot focus

Although we’d all like to have such a high degree of self-control that we don’t need any external aids to keep ourselves focused and present when using technology, in practice we can all use a little help.  There are a variety of apps you can use to resist technological temptation by making it impossible (or at least very difficult) to succumb to that temptation.  Some good examples are:

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Technological Distractions are a Bug, Not a Feature

Technological Distractions are a Bug, Not a Feature

I can’t count how many times I have heard the following responses to a complaint about how technology can distract us:

  • “You can’t turn back the clock.”
  • “If you find it distracting, just turn it off.”
  • “It’s the price we pay for the benefits of technology.”

Continue reading Technological Distractions are a Bug, Not a Feature

Stop Multitasking, It’s Wearing You Down!

Stop Multitasking, It’s Wearing You Down!

Are you the type of person that’s constantly doing more than one thing? Do you regularly eat while you’re working? Do you check your emails, social media notifications, and look at news in the morning while you’re getting ready for the day? You’re not alone, most of us multitask, and many of us think we’re pretty good at it, but most of us have no idea what multitasking is doing to us.

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Pokemon Go: Does “Augmented Reality” Augment Reality?

pokemon-go

The term “augmented reality” refers to technologies — like Pokemon Go — that superimpose characters and other objects on images of the real world.

But does “augmented reality” necessarily augment reality?  The term “augment” connotes an improvement, not just an addition.  Just consider that in the last few weeks Pokemon Go has been reported to:

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Learn to Practice Mindfulness at Work

Learn to Practice Mindfulness at Work

Do you ever feel aimless and unfocused at work? Do you leave the office at the end of the day feeling like you got nothing accomplished? If so, you are not alone. New research shows that people spend almost 47 percent of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing. In other words, many of us operate on autopilot.

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What’s Worthy of Your Time?

 

What’s Worthy of Your Time?

In two of our recent blogs we talked about distraction and the theories behind why we as a society are so distracted—the two oldest theories, and one new theory—but how can we combat distraction?

Continue reading What’s Worthy of Your Time?

The Third Theory of Distraction: Is There a Solution?

The Third Theory of Distraction: Is There a Solution?

In our previous post Two Theories of Distraction: Is it Becoming a Bigger Issue?, we talked about the two oldest and biggest theories of distraction: spiritual and material distraction. But there’s a new theory of distraction that’s been brought to light by Matthew Crawford in his new book “The World Beyond Your Head: Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction.”

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Two Theories of Distraction: Is it Becoming a Bigger Issue?

Two Theories of Distraction: Is it Becoming a Bigger Issue?

Distraction, it’s something that happens to all of us in today’s modern society. It can be enjoyable at times (scrolling though Facebook while waiting for a flight), but it can also lead to some terrible situations (scrolling though Facebook while driving).

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Pause, and Just Relax with Help From Your Phone

Pause, and Just Relax with Help From Your Phone

You’re sitting at work with what feels like 10 million things to do before the day is over and you’re starting to feel the stress build… sound familiar? You need to relax, but at the same time, if you stop to relax, that means less time you’ll have to work on everything—it’s truly a dilemma. What if the solution to your problem was sitting right beside you? What if your phone could give you that short stress-relieving break you need without wasting too much of your time?

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Shutdown Rituals: Leave The Work Stress at Work

 

Shutdown Rituals: Leave The Work Stress at Work

We hate to admit it, but nearly all of us take work home with us, it can be hard to just pack up and the end of the day and leave everything at the office. Whether we literally take home things to do after leaving work, or mentally take work problems home, it happens. Unless your job requires it—leave work stress in the office!

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A Sneaky Way to Eliminate Technological Distractions at the Dinner Table

Have you ever sat down with your family for dinner, only to be faced with the glare of smartphones from everyone at the table?  If so, then Dolmio Australia claims to have a technological solution to the problem:

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5 Tips for Using Technology More Mindfully

phone

 

We all complain about how technology distracts us and makes it harder to be mindful. Now is the time to stop moaning and take charge. Here are five tips for using technology to help you be more mindful.

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Nattch Offers a Social Networking System with Reduced Distractions

Nattch is an online social networking system that only allows users to post updates about their actual lives–no links to other information on the Internet allowed.  The goal is to limit posts to information about users themselves, and to eliminate the clutter and temptation of links to external–and usually irrelevant–information.

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David Levy Teaches Course on “Information and Contemplation”

University of Washington Professor David Levy teaches a course entitled, “Information and Contemplation,” in which he guides students through mind-training exercises, such as engaging in only one digital task at a time, to raise students’ awareness about how they use computer technology.  He also begins each session with a short meditation.  Read more about it at The Chronicle of Higher Education.

 

Attention as a Resource

Matthew B. Crawford has an interesting piece in the New York Times suggesting that we view our attention as a resource and recognize that “a person has only so much of it.”  “What if we saw attention in the same way that we saw air or water, as a valuable resource that we hold in common? Perhaps, if we could envision an “attentional commons,” then we could figure out how to protect it.”

 

The average cellphone user touches their phone 2,617 times a day.

The average cellphone user touches their phone 2,617 times a day.

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