Finding yourself consistently distracted by your Smartphone? In this 1 hour workshop, join Robert Plotkin, founder of Technology For Mindfulness and get the tools you need to gain back control in 2019. Click here for tickets
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.
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.
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.
Use technology to set a reminder to do or not do something.
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.
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.
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.
Continue reading How to Mindfully Use Your GPS
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.
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.
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 don’t know what all of the reasons were behind these decisions. To a certain extent, they don’t matter to me.
Let’s stay mindful of how they implement these major initiatives in response to our needs.
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
Have you ever watched a tennis sequence in which a player serves and the receiver runs in reaction to the serve and then hits the ball back off balance? Throughout the exchange, the server stands firm and is seemingly dictating where and when the receiver moves.
Do you ever feel like that with your smartphone? Are you the receiver and is your smartphone the server? Continue reading Responding, Not Reacting to Your Smartphone
Since I write and teach about using technology mindfully, many people assume that I’m somehow naturally gifted at that practice. They believe I’m always focused at work and never struggle with distractions when I should be doing something more productive.
In fact, when I tell people about my work in this field, they get embarrassed and think I will look down on them because of how poorly or distractedly they use technology. Continue reading You Use Technology More Mindfully Than I Do
This article is about what to do when none of the suggestions seem to work.
Continue reading Practice “Not Even One”
A critical part of mindfulness is paying attention to our experience in the present moment.
Continue reading Beyond Noticing: Putting Mindfulness into Action
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
Here are some more ways to apply mindfulness to tackling the tasks on your to-do list.Continue reading Tips for Mindful Task Management: Part 2
This exercise consists of revising your daily or weekly tasks in light of your long-term goals or intentions.
Continue reading Updating Tasks in Light of Your Intentions
Whether you’re a writer, an artist, or simply trying to figure out a creative solution 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
We all struggle with anxiety once in awhile, but for some it can feel worse and more difficult to control. At times, it can feel nearly debilitating. Some turn to meditation, others visit psychiatrists despite their fears of the stigma it holds. But there’s another way to help you control your anxiety… no medication, no stigma, and you can do it from your phone! What is it?
Continue reading Learn to Unwind Your Anxiety With 10 Minutes Per Day
Today, people use their phones for a variety of different tasks and we’re using them all throughout the day! In fact, many people spend 5+ hours per day using their smartphones. And while technology can help us in countless ways, it’s not always the best thing for us. I mean, take a look at Generation Z, the generation that has grown up with technology, and you’ll see the changes it brings about in us as individuals!
As even more studies on how technology impacts us come out, researchers are urging us to start limiting our screen time.
Continue reading The Best Apps to Help You Live in the Moment
We’ve seen hilarious videos and stories of the problems smartphone distraction 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”
As technology keeps evolving, each generation of parents has had to deal with problems that their parents or grandparents could have never dreamt! First, it was TV, then it was video games “rotting the brain,” and now smartphones. What will come next? Who knows?! And it seems like with each new technology the effect is different… and often worse.
Take Generation Z for example, the generation after Millennials. The generation that grew up with iPads and smartphones—they’ve never known life without being constantly connected! And that’s created a HUGE leap in characteristic changes from their parents and grandparents. They’ve become the generation that’s not interested in independence; they already have so much independence online, and that’s become good enough for them. But there’s one other change today’s teens are suffering from: depression.
Continue reading Teen Depression is on the Rise: Are Smartphones to Blame?
We’ve talked before about using mindfulness at a personal level in the workplace to reduce stress. But you may have also heard the term “mindful company.” So what does it really mean to be a “mindful company”? This term has only started to gain popularity in recent years. In fact, many still question whether this is really possible or just a term brands like to toss around to sound more appealing to customers and employees.
Continue reading What’s A Mindful Company & What Does It Take To Be One?
Most people regularly (or at least semi-regularly) go through their stuff and declutter. 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!
We all know that each generation has different experiences, they grow up in a different 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.
Work is a place that we can easily feel stressed and overwhelmed. Maybe you have multiple projects going at the same time or an impossibly short deadline that your boss wants you to meet. It’s happened to all of us at one point! The key to keeping calm under all this stress? Mindfulness.
When a workplace promotes mindfulness a few changes begin to happen. The entire company culture changes. The workplace begins to attract (and keep) the best employees. And performance within the company improves!
Time management author, public speaker, coach & trainer Dave Crenshaw has appeared in Time magazine, USA Today, FastCompany, the BBC News, & his courses on LinkedIn Learning have received millions of views. Crenshaw’s three books, including “The Myth of Multitasking” and his newest, “The Power of Having Fun: How Meaningful Breaks Help You Get More Done”, are in stores now.
Years ago who would have ever imagined finding a date online? But then came dating sites like Match.com and eHarmony, and it took the effort out of meeting new people and dating. Today finding a date has become even more mindless with sites like Tinder where you simply swipe left or right to find a match and get a date. Now, though, as mindfulness is beginning to gain popularity, we seem to be reverting back to good ol’ conversation to find a date!
At MNDFL, a meditation studio in New York City, something’s starting to happen… people have started finding relationships offline, relationships based on common interests, not just physical appearance.
Mark Bauerlein earned his doctorate in English at UCLA in 1988 & has taught at Emory 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.
Last week we talked about how and why we need to recover from tasks in our daily life and we covered, recovering from work and technology. I challenged you to take on both of these, did you try it? How did it go? Did you notice a difference in your stress or sleep?
Today we’re moving on to the other 4 areas of our lives that we need to learn to recover from: people, fitness, food, & being awake.
Neil Seligman is the Founder of The Conscious Professional, the Author of 100 Mindfulness Meditations and one of the UK’s leading experts in Corporate Mindfulness, Wellbeing and Professional Resilience.
In this episode Neil discusses about his work at The Conscious Professional and what his mission and goal is. According to Neil his practice brings skills of mindfulness to professionals. His vision is enlightened executives and conscious businesses. Neil links mindfulness to professional excellence, and his vision is to find the missing link in many professionals who are not able to express themselves in the exterior reality. The internal world is the key to emotional intelligence and we have to find peace within ourselves.
How much time do you spend on your phone each day? I bet it’s probably more than 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?
Our smartphones are constantly dinging and ringing, alerting us of notifications all day long. And don’t get me started on how much time we waste looking at all of these (mostly unimportant) notifications. Sometimes it can make smartphones feel more stressful and annoying than a helpful tool. Does anyone else just slightly miss the days before smartphones? But it doesn’t have to feel that way… in fact, our phones can be a tool of relaxation!
Have you ever had a lucid dream? A dream where you were able to tell that it was a dream and not reality? The concept of lucidity has been around for a long time. In Buddhist practice there’s something called “dream yoga” the practice of meditating in a lucid dream. But now, researchers are beginning to learn how incorporate it into virtual reality.
You already know about meditation, and you may have heard that it’s becoming more mainstream—it’s not just for Buddhists or those totally chill hipsters. But technology is bringing mindfulness and meditation into the general public! Why? Because it can be beneficial to anyone. And with wearable relaxation technology and meditation apps, there’s no doubt that it’s only just beginning.
And one place that needs it most is the workplace.
The worlds of technology and health and constantly growing closer and closer together. Whether you’re at a medical hospital, physical therapy, or visiting a psychiatrist, chances are that technology is going to play a role in your treatment.
One such technology is making a name for itself in the medical and psychological community as an innovative way to help treat patients with major depressive disorder (MDD). Those with MDD have an imbalance in their brain activity: the areas involved in emotion processing are in a hyperactive state, while the cognitive control and emotional regulation areas show decreased activity. Now, a new app is aiming to balance those two areas of the brain.
I’ve talked before about how technology is taking over, about how many times we’re “accidentally” sucked into our phones. We’re checking our social media accounts, multiple times a day for no other reason that the fear of missing out (FOMO).
It’s been estimated that nearly 16 million adults age 18+ have been affected by depression, and close to 10% suffer from mood disorders. Can you guess what the most common treatment method is for both of these things? You guessed it: medication. And the number of people being prescribed these medications is on the rise. The second most common method for treating depression and other mood disorders is cognitive based therapy. But there’s another method that’s gaining popularity: mindfulness.
While some people choose to gift flowers, jewelry, or cute nic nacs to their mothers or wives on special occasions, others choose the route of technology. And do you want to know why? Although we’re all aiming for gender equality, it’s no secret that women still have it rougher than men, and technology can help change that!
I know I’ve talked about this so many times before, but let me say it again for those 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.”
We’ve just posted the latest episode of the Technology for Mindfulness Podcast, where Dr. Susan Maushart, author of The Winter of Our Disconnect: How Three Totally Wired Teenagers (and a Mother Who Slept with Her iPhone) Pulled the Plug on Their Technology and Lived to Tell the Tale, joins host Robert Plotkin for a discussion about how she and her three teenage children went technology-free in their home for six months.
We’ve just posted the latest episode of the Technology for Mindfulness Podcast, where Dr. Judson Brewer, Director of Research at the Center for Mindfulness, joins host Robert Plotkin for a discussion about Dr. Brewer’s recent book, The Craving Mind: From Cigarettes to Smartphones to Love – Why We Get Hooked and How We Can Break Bad Habits, which describes how our technology habits share many of the same neurological origins and traits as drug and food addictions, and how we can use mindfulness to break these harmful habit loops.
Join author Sherry Turkle, the Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT, and the founder (2001) and current director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self on April 19th to learn more about the effect of technology on solitude.
This event is organized by MIT Radius, where Technology for Mindfulness’s own Robert Plotkin is a member of the Steering Committee.
More about this week’s event here.
While technology does a lot to distract us from the present and bring us stress, it can also do a lot to help us relax and be more present. As much as I like to encourage people to set their devices down and be present, we all use technology—it’s not going anywhere! So why not embrace it and use in a way that will help us live a better life?
We’ve talked about using apps and even virtual reality to help us relax, but technology has come much further than that!
Take a look at these companies that have taken relaxation to a whole new level with the help of technology!
You’re about to start cooking dinner when you have a question about the recipe… 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!
Move over Headspace, there’s a new player in the mindfulness app game and it goes by the name of Calm—and they’re aiming to become more than just an app. Calm is a 14-person mindfulness startup. The founders, Michael Acton Smith and Alex Tew, began the company with hopes of commercializing the countless benefits of meditation.
With little advertisement, aside from Facebook for generating leads, Calm managed to garner 8 million app downloads.
Mindfulness is something which the medical world has yet to fully accept as a means for treating patients. Although mindful meditation has a variety of benefits, and has been around for thousands of years, it’s a relatively new concept to many doctors. One of the many things that meditation has been shown to aid in the treatment of is anxiety disorder, a condition that affects nearly 7 million Americans.
Technology is such an integral part of our lives, and as technology evolves and becomes 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.
Virtual reality… another device to help us mindlessly waste time, play more games and watching more videos, right? While there are some experimental educational uses for VR such as virtual tours and potential medical uses, for the most part the general public (or the small portion of them that actually own a VR device) is using virtual reality for gaming and time-wasting activities.
Today children are exposed to screens of all sorts from an early age: TV screens, phone 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?
We all want to eat healthier, right? But sometimes it can be hard; cravings happen, we over eat—we aren’t always aware of what we’re putting in our bodies. How many times have you been craving sweets and mindlessly threw a candy bar in your cart while grocery shopping, or grabbed a handful of chips simply because you were bored and snacking gave you something to do?
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:
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.
Yoga in schools is something that has been a controversial topic since it was introduced in public schools years ago. Having roots in Hinduism there has been the question of whether yoga is a religious practice, and thus violating the separation between church and state.
Some argue that the religious association of yoga means it does not belong in schools; others, like amaZEN U, see yoga as a way to teach mindfulness, empathy, improve focus, and take “brain breaks” throughout the school day to improve performance in the class.
Is the internet giving us a false sense of knowledge? That’s what three Yale psychologists set out to find in a very interesting study.
This study conducted by Matthew Fisher, Mariel K. Goddu, and Frank C. Keil has shown that simple researching on the internet can inflate one’s estimate of their own internal knowledge. This phenomenon isn’t related to any particular subject and can even transfer into other, un-related subjects!
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?
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.
If you look up “meditate” you will most likely come across a definition similar to the one above. It’s funny because when I think of meditation, I think of the opposite of “thinking deeply.” I meditate to calm my mind and slow down.
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