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Category: Technology

20 Apps To Help Stressed Parents Find Balance

Parenting is the best job in the world. But it can also be the hardest.

With a neverending to-do list and 24/7 schedule, parents often find themselves scattered and tired, just trying to get it all done.

But no parent wants to miss those beautiful childhood moments of growth, happiness, and discovery.

So, how do you take care of the basics and still have time to be fully present with your kids?

As the old Apple commercial says, “There’s an app for that!” 

Technology can be a lifesaver for stressed parents. Whether you need to find an afternoon activity, book a last-minute babysitter, or simply calm your mind after a long day with the kids, there really is an app for everything.

We’ve gathered 20 of our favorites to help you balance it all.

Continue reading 20 Apps To Help Stressed Parents Find Balance

3 Lessons from Nir Eyal on Building Positive Habits with Technology

For the past two decades, tech companies in Silicon Valley and beyond have competed for their share of a budding market.

More valuable than cold cash, gold, or stocks in the latest hot startup, this market doesn’t deal in any kind of traditional currency. 

It’s the attention market. 

With the advent of the Internet and handheld devices that allowed us to surf online at all times of day, a user’s attention– what app they’re using, how long they’re staying on that app– has acquired significant economic worth for anyone able and willing to build an app, service, or simply a website. 

And so the war for attention began.

Maybe that’s a bit over the top, but tech companies most certainly have a lot of muscle in the way of millions, even billions, of investor dollars being put towards figuring out how to capitalize on and hook more of people’s attention for the profitability of their venture. 

Is it really all that bad? 

But wait– is that all this is? Are tech companies just trying to profit from us and we’re being used by pawns for economic gain?

There are definitely some questionable practices going on. Some have criticized social networks for what could be seen as manipulative design practices. However, that’s only part of the story. 

Within this booming tech revolution are many bright spots as well, things that have made many of our lives better. Much of which many of us couldn’t imagine living without. 

Plus, as we’re about to find out from tech psychology and design expert Nir Eyal, techniques used for the purpose of drawing consumer’s attention are as old as Fruit Loops (Okay, maybe a little older than that), and no one’s ever seemed to mind them. That or the bright red stop sign on your street corner. 

3 Lessons from Author Nir Eyal on Building Positive Habits with Technology

Recently on TFM podcast episode #35, Nir Eyal is a writer, consultant, speaker, and expert on the intersection between technology, psychology, and business. 

3 Lessons from Nir Eyal on Building Positive Habits with Technology

He’s been dubbed “The Prophet of Habit-Forming Technology” by M.I.T. Technology Review, and for good reason.

Between his books, Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products and Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life he teaches on: 

  • The science behind habit-forming products
  • The difference between ethical habit-forming product strategies and unethical ones
  • The effect of this technology on our well-being
  • And how we can take back our attention, develop more positive habits with technology, and lead a more intentional life

Here are 3 lessons from Nir Eyal on building positive habits with technology: 

1. Technology isn’t bad or evil, but we need to learn how to live with it in a healthier way

Eyal makes it clear in Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products that there are two types of psychological manipulation: 

  • Persuasion: Getting someone to do something they want to do. 
  • Coercion: Getting someone to do something they don’t want to do. 

Persuasion involves a kind of convincing nudge. Take a Coke commercial, for example. 

They always make that bottle of Coke look like the most incredibly delicious thing ever. You practically want to jump out of the house and go straight to the store to pick up a bottle. 

Coke is something you like. You’ve tasted it before and you enjoy drinking it. Coke knows this and they gear their advertisements in a way that entice you based on this knowledge. 

That’s persuasion, and it’s far more common than you think. 

Even the stop sign on your local street works the same way. It’s designed in a way to catch your eye when you’re driving by (the bright red color, reflective surface), influencing you to stop. 

Smartphone apps and other newer technologies are designed in a similar way. Colors, intuitive design, sounds (see: Pavlov’s dog), and other persuasion techniques are used to hook users and keep them coming back to the app, be it a social network, mobile game, or other. 

But coercion is different (and unethical) 

Coercion is when someone, or something, get you to do something you don’t want to do. 

Think about the pushy salesperson that’s so relentless you eventually give in and buy whatever they’re selling just to get them off your back. Afterward, you can’t shake that uncomfortable feeling– like you were just used.

Some argue that the persuasion techniques smartphone apps and other new technologies are utilizing ride dangerously close to coercion. 

However, we all get value, be it connection, entertainment, or functionality, from the apps we use. And we use them because we enjoy the value we get from them. And, well, software companies use them because they work

Using persuasion tech to build positive habits with technology

Ultimately, it’s unrealistic to think that we can just dump technology. Our smartphones and things like social media have become tightly bound to how we operate and communicate in daily life. 

You could argue that tech companies need to be a bit more compassionate with their design practices. However, your best bet of making a difference in the quality of your life as it pertains to your tech use is to look at your own habits.

The first suggestion many will make is a tech detox. However, a tech detox doesn’t work, says Eyal, as we just end up coming back and gorging before moving right back into our old habits with technology. 

Therefore, we need to learn how to use technology in a healthier way. We need to look at our tech habits.

Start paying attention to when you use what device, what you use it for, and how often you use said app or scroll through said website.

Get clarity about what your tech vices are– those things you just can’t seem to live without– and work on curbing your use.

Fortunately, you don’t have to do it all on your own. Companies such as Facebook have started moving away from measuring success based on time on app. Instead, they’re now beginning to measure user well-being (how they feel after using the app). 

2. Understand the internal and external triggers that cause distraction

It’s clear that we can, and should, use technology in a healthier way. The way that newer technology is designed, though, makes that difficult.

We’re being hit with constant distractions via our smartphone: social notifications, text messages, reminders, etc. 

However, while these should be dealt with, Eyal argues that it’s not these external triggers but the internal ones that are the real problem. 

According to Eyal, there are two types of triggers:

  1. External triggers: These include a ping from social or a text message, a phone call, or anything else that prompts you to take action now. 
  2. Internal triggers: These are the emotional states which cause us to want to distract ourselves such as loneliness, fear, frustration, boredom, and fatigue. 

External triggers, Eyal says, aren’t inherently bad for us. Rather, it’s how we respond to them that matters. 

Dealing with external triggers

“If you plan to pick up that phone call and that’s what you scheduled and then that external trigger moves you towards traction… it helped you,” says Eyal. “But if that phone call interrupted the focused work you were doing and now you’re doing something you didn’t plan to do now, it’s moved you towards distraction.”

The first step, he says, is to analyze these various external triggers– the pings and rings– to understand how they’re affecting you. 

“Two-thirds of people who own a smartphone never adjust their notification settings,” says Eyal. Simple actions like this can help us take positive action towards controlling these external triggers and living a more intentional lifestyle.

Getting to the root of the problem with internal triggers

“Internal triggers are these prompts to action that come from inside our own heads,” says Eyal. These, Eyal says, are the real issue and often the cause of our susceptibility to external triggers. 

“Distraction starts from within”

“The icky-sticky truth that we don’t like to acknowledge… is that so much of what we do is driven by these uncomfortable emotional states,” he continues. 

  • We run from fear by indulging in YouTube videos or scroll forever through Twitter
  • Binge on Netflix to distract from our loneliness
  • Seek out feel-good sensations when we’re bored, like mobile games or checking on our friends on Facebook
  • And we break down and succumb to virtually any vice when we’re exhausted. 

Distractions are a way for us to numb uncomfortable feelings, and we’re skilled at avoiding them at all costs. 

“You can’t call something a distraction unless you know what it distracted you from.”

The problem is, “If we don’t tackle these internal triggers and find ways to cope in a healthier manner,” Eyal says, “we will always be distracted.” 

3. Focus on traction vs. distraction

Discovering what your internal and external triggers are is a big part of the puzzle, but what else can you do to build more positive habits with technology? 

To be more mindful with your tech use, Eyal suggests focusing on traction vs. distraction.

Traction is intentional, it’s when you’re doing the things you planned to do. In other words, you’re moving forward (hence traction). 

Distraction is self-explanatory– it’s when your pulled away from intentional action (hence distraction).

How to move from distraction to traction

The goal, Eyal says, is to figure out how you can make distraction less likely and traction more. 

For example, one of the simplest things you can do to live a more mindful life and take control of your technology use is to plan your day. Surprisingly, “only about 1/3 of people actually plan their day,” says Eyal. 

Ultimately, if you don’t put down on our calendar what you plan to do, you can hardly say you were distracted. You need an intentional plan for traction before anything. 

In addition to planning your day, Eyal suggests you make a pact with yourself to remove distractions.

To that end, there are a ton of apps already on the market that can help you live a more intentional life, like work focus app Forest and Time Guard (Apple), both of which Eyal personally uses and recommends. 

“This is why I really bristle when people say that technology is addictive and that it’s irresistible or hijacking our brain,” says Eyal. “This gives us the impression that we’re all somehow addicted, that we’re all powerless.” 

However, this couldn’t be further from the truth, Eyal says. There are countless tools and techniques out there that you can use to take control and live more intentionally. 

Learn more about Nir Eyal

Nir Eyal writes, consults, and teaches about the intersection of psychology, technology, and business. He is the author of the bestselling book, Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products and his new book, Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life, teaches you how to manage distractions, build more positive habits with technology, and live more intentionally. 

In addition to blogging at NirAndFar.com, Nir’s writing has been featured in The Harvard Business Review, TechCrunch, and Psychology Today

Find out more about Nir at Nirandfar.com and watch TFM podcast episode #35 with Nir Eyal here.

3 Key Insights on the Psychology of Technology from Author & Researcher Dr. Larry Rosen

If you’ve ever been concerned about the psychological impact of our society’s increasing obsession with technology, Dr. Larry Rosen has studied it from every angle over the past 30 years.

You might be wondering what there was to study back in the late 1980s! Even then, as computers made their way into homes and workplaces, Rosen began to recognize and study signs of “technophobia.” In fact, his first publication TechnoStress: Coping with Technology @Work @Home @Play was published in 1997. 

But with the exponential growth of personal technology like iPhones and social media, fear has been replaced with anxiety and distraction due to our constant connectedness. That’s been the focus of his research over the past decade. 

Robert Plotkin had an opportunity to talk with Dr. Rosen on episode 23 of the Technology for Mindfulness podcast about what he’s learned from his years of research and how the fields of neuroscience and psychology can help us engage with technology in a healthy way. Here are three key insights we gleaned from their conversation on the psychology of technology.

Continue reading 3 Key Insights on the Psychology of Technology from Author & Researcher Dr. Larry Rosen

How to Manage Your Digital Environment – 6 Practical Ideas from Pete Dunlap

The concept of mindful technology is edging its way into the mainstream as more and more people want to break free of unhealthy digital habits.

Pete Dunlap, Founder of Digital Detangler, is poised to help with this uniquely modern problem. He empowers individuals, schools, and businesses to transform their digital environments for greater well-being.

Robert Plotkin recently interviewed Pete on the Technology for Mindfulness podcast to learn how he became the Digital Detangler and what individuals can do to take control of their own technology use. Continue reading How to Manage Your Digital Environment – 6 Practical Ideas from Pete Dunlap

4 Ways Technology Can Improve Your Relationships – A Conversation with Marla Mattenson

When you read the latest headlines, you’d think technology is the worst thing to happen to couples since… well, ever. After all, it takes our attention away from our partners, right?

Not so fast. It’s not all bad news. Marla Mattenson has a different perspective, and it’s quite empowering. Continue reading 4 Ways Technology Can Improve Your Relationships – A Conversation with Marla Mattenson

Thriving as an Entrepreneur in the Digital Age – 5 Lessons from Dr. Sherry Walling

Dr. Sherry Walling offers a unique perspective on entrepreneur burnout.

As both an accomplished clinical psychologist and the spouse of a serial tech entrepreneur, she’s combined insights from both roles and developed a much-needed resource called ZenFounder.

On a recent Technology for Mindfulness podcast, our founder Robert Plotkin interviewed Dr. Walling to learn more about her work.

They chatted about entrepreneur stress, how it’s made worse by the frenetic pace of technology, and her recommendations for founders (and their partners). Continue reading Thriving as an Entrepreneur in the Digital Age – 5 Lessons from Dr. Sherry Walling

How to Manage Your Technology Notifications for a Mindful Workday

You might think mindfulness at work is impossible these days. With constant connectivity comes constant interruptions, right? But it doesn’t have to be that way. Many of us never stop to consider that we can control our notifications, settings, and reminders. Sure, you might change a few things when you get a new phone or download an app. But when was the last time you thought critically about whether they’re really working for you? In this post, we’ll talk about how you can create a work environment that’s conducive to mindfulness. That includes easy tips, smart tools, and helpful resources to move you from frazzled to calm. Your coworkers will be asking for your secret, so be sure to share! Continue reading How to Manage Your Technology Notifications for a Mindful Workday

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

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

De-Cluttering Your Desktop

The so-called “desktop metaphor” has been around on personal computers for about 40 years and is still the dominant way of visually organizing information. It was originally designed to emulate a physical desktop on which you put folders, files, and other types of documents and devices.

Regardless of how you feel about computer desktops, they can become cluttered just like a physical desktop, which can be distracting, stress-inducing, and hinder your productivity.

If your desktop is filled from top to bottom with icons, are you aware of whether just glancing at that desktop hundreds of times throughout the day causes any feelings of stress? Perhaps you catch an icon for a document you’re working on out of the corner of your eye. It may cause a thought or worry about how you’re going to complete that document. The thought may be fleeting and you may only be semi-aware of it. However, consider the cumulative impact of having so many experiences like this throughout your day just because of how many times you are looking at that desktop.

Here are a few tips you can follow to remove the clutter from your desktop.

Relocate the Clutter

If you like having all of those icons on your desktop because you feel that they are easy to find, I have one simple suggestion that will let you access everything just as easily without cluttering your visual space and creating any anxiety. Just create a single folder on your desktop called “Desktop” and move all of the icons from your desktop into that folder. Now your desktop is clear, but you can still access everything that was in it by opening that folder.

You lose virtually no productivity by taking this step while potentially making a very significant gain in how relaxed, calm, and de-stressed you feel when looking at your desktop.

To make sure you keep enjoying the benefits of this practice over time, you must close the folder after opening it so that its contents are no longer visible. Otherwise, you will be seeing the clutter just as regularly as you would if it were scattered around the desktop.

As an additional step, you can create a small number of subfolders within your new desktop folder. Keep it very simple — you might just have a folder for apps and separate folders for different types of documents (word processing, spreadsheets, photos, etc.). If you make too many folders, you will start making it hard to find documents and reduce the benefits that this simple method provides.

Maintain the Habit

Now, you merely need to keep your desktop from becoming cluttered again over time. The most common ways in which this happens occur when installing new apps or creating new folders on your computer. Move those icons and documents into your desktop folder.

Even if you’re someone who loves having a full desktop, try out this approach and see how different you feel when booting up your computer in the morning and seeing a completely tidy space. You could even use a desktop background image that you love in order to stay motivated to keep it from being blocked by countless icons.

Once you make the small investment of time and energy required to start using this method, it takes very little effort to maintain it over time. You can get a huge payback in feeling calm while maintaining very high productivity.

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.

Turning Off Your Work Mind

Do you find that it’s hard to turn your work mind off even after you stop working? Is the “end of the work day” concept foreign to you because you keep your nose so close the grindstone? Many of us find ourselves in this situation, particularly with smartphones, laptops, and mobile internet enabling us to stay connected at all times.

Those of us who work from home can find it especially difficult to create boundaries between work and personal life. Here are some suggestions for doing just that.

1. Try to develop a regular work schedule.

This allows you to get into the habit of starting and stopping work at certain times of the day. It doesn’t have to be a traditional schedule. Just find what works for you. It can even include several different periods of work on different days. The key is doing your best to schedule certain regular times for starting and stopping work, creating a habit in your mind through repetition.

2. Develop starting and ending work habits/rituals.

These are certain actions that you perform and thoughts that you have to transition your mind into and out of work mode. They could be as simple as stopping and pausing for 5 or 10 seconds and thinking about what you’re going to transition into. You might say it out loud or in your mind to engage your focus. It could be something as simple as arranging things on your desk or simply starting work. No matter the tasks, these should help you make the mental transition to and from work.

Rituals are found in several other traditions. For instance, when you walk into a Japanese martial arts school, you pause and bow at the threshold before entering. At the beginning of each class, there is also a bowing ceremony. I was always taught that one of this ritual’s purposes is to help us reach a more focused mental state.

These tips have something in common: They help to create and enforce mental boundaries between work time and non-work time. I think these boundaries have always existed, but it’s particularly important these days to intentionally create them because they’re missing in the way that many of us work. Technology makes information and communication available to us at all times and in all places. Many of us can work without going into an office, with different people, and on different projects. Obviously, this situation suffers from a lack of boundaries.

If we want to have them in our lives, we have to create them ourselves through force of habit.

Here’s another resource that could help: Shutdown Rituals: Leave the Work Stress at Work.

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 given 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.Â

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.Â

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.Â

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.Â

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

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 ways to achieve a state of mindfulness that don’t start with or focus primarily on your mind. Other approaches focus more on the body or integrating mental and physical training. Continue reading The Mind Can Also Follow the Body

Responding, Not Reacting to Your Smartphone

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

You Use Technology More Mindfully Than I Do


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

Practice “Not Even One”


On this blog, we’ve shared many tips on the following topics:

  • How to use technology more mindfully.
  • How to exercise more control over how and when you use technology in order to be more productive, focused, and creative.
  • How to enable your use of technology to be more aligned with your intentions and goals.

This article is about what to do when none of the suggestions seem to work.

Continue reading Practice “Not Even One”

Beyond Noticing: Putting Mindfulness into Action

A critical part of mindfulness is paying attention to our experience in the present moment.

Continue reading Beyond Noticing: Putting Mindfulness into Action

Make Plans as If the Internet Didn’t Exist

In recent years, many of us have taken to canceling plans at the last minute via text or by using our smartphones in other ways. It usually happens minutes from the meeting time. I try not to do this, but I am definitely guilty of it.
Continue reading Make Plans as If the Internet Didn’t Exist

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

The Pros and Cons of Mindfulness Reminders

There are many apps that can remind you to meditate or be mindful. You can set them to remind you at a certain time and configure them in all kinds of ways:

  • Some of them ring a bell to remind you to be present, and then it’s up to you to do what you want at that time (ex. pause and breathe, stretch, or meditate).
  • Some of them will ring a bell and then actually play a sound to help you in your meditation.
  • Some of them will offer you an inspiring quote or guided meditation.
I’m a big fan of these apps and suggest that you experiment with them to find which ones work best for you.

Continue reading The Pros and Cons of Mindfulness Reminders

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

Learn to Unwind Your Anxiety With 10 Minutes Per Day

We all struggle with anxiety once in awhile, but for some it can feel worse andLearn to Unwind Your Anxiety With 10 Minutes Per Day 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

Winter Feast: A Time to Reconnect

A Feast For Your Soul & Spirit.

Winter Feast is a 40 day Worldwide Spiritual Practice Period everyone is invited to join.

It’s for people of all faiths who take part in committing 40 minutes of spiritual practice each day for forty days. The intention behind Winter feast is to create peace in each individual’s life and to extend to others as well. Participants are also invited to practice daily acts of kindness. Although it may seem like only a small group of people setting out to do this, the impact of such an act can be much greater.

“Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead

Winter Feast is from the morning of January 15th until February 23rd. As most of the Northern Hemisphere is deep in winter during this time, it’s a perfect way to begin the New Year to reconnect with spirit and bring our awareness to a new level.

“What nine months does for the embryo, forty early mornings will do for your growing awareness.” — Rumi

I’ll be taking part in Winter Feast and I encourage you to do so as well! Here are ways you can participate: http://feastforthesoul.org/feast-2018/

Winter Feast — Jan 15 to Feb 23

www.feastforthesoul.org

We can do it when we work together!

December Mindfulness, Meditation, and Technology Roundup

Interesting Reads & Studies

Continue reading December Mindfulness, Meditation, and Technology Roundup

Using Technology to Bring Mindfulness into Your Day

Typically, when we think about mindfulness, we think about avoiding technologyUsing Technology to Bring Mindfulness into Your Day—putting away our smartphones, taking a break from TV or computers. But really, technology and mindfulness aren’t so different. How? They’re both tools to help us solve problems and achieve certain objectives… one is just focused on external problems while the other focuses on the internal.

Continue reading Using Technology to Bring Mindfulness into Your Day

The Best Apps to Help You Live in the Moment

Today, people use their phones for a variety of different tasks and we’re using the-best-apps-to-help-you-live-in-the-momentthem 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

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”

Teen Depression is on the Rise: Are Smartphones to Blame?

As technology keeps evolving, each generation of parents has had to deal with Teen Depression is on the Rise: Are Smartphones to Blameproblems 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?

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

How Be Happier & More Productive at Work with Simple Mindfulness Practices

Work is a place that we can easily feel stressed and overwhelmed. Maybe you How be Happier More Productive at Work This Weekhave 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!

Continue reading How Be Happier & More Productive at Work with Simple Mindfulness Practices

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

Relax Anytime, Anywhere with Buddhify

Our smartphones are constantly dinging and ringing, alerting us of notifications relax-anytime-anywhere-with-buddhifyall 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!

Continue reading Relax Anytime, Anywhere with Buddhify

Lucidity, Virtual Reality, and Buddhism

Have you ever had a lucid dream? A dream where you were able to tell that it lucidity-virtual-reality-and-buddhismwas 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.

Continue reading Lucidity, Virtual Reality, and Buddhism

Technology is Helping Close the Gap for Women

Unfortunately, not the pay gap, although hopefully that will improve soon too!technology-is-helping-close-the-gap-for-women

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!

Continue reading Technology is Helping Close the Gap for Women

New French Bill Proposes “Right To Disconnect” From After Work Hours: Will It Work?

We’re living in an “always on” society. We’re always doing something, we’re the-right-to-disconnect-from-work-to-after-work-hoursalways connected, we’re always right by our phones (and reaching it more than we should). Whether it’s a call from your boss asking if you can come in on your day off or an email from an important client on the weekend, we’re never fully disconnected from our work, are we?

A new law is attempting to help French workers relax outside of work, giving them the “right to disconnect.”

Continue reading New French Bill Proposes “Right To Disconnect” From After Work Hours: Will It Work?

Wearable Technology to Help You Relax and Focus

While technology does a lot to distract us from the present and bring us stress, it wearable-technology-to-help-you-relax-and-focuscan 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!

Continue reading Wearable Technology to Help You Relax and Focus

Addicted to Your Phone? Ask Yourself These 5 Questions When You Reach For Your Smartphone

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 Addicted to Your Phone? Ask Yourself These 5 Questions When You Reach For Your Smartphone

Keep Calm and Download this App

Move over Headspace, there’s a new player in the mindfulness app game and it keep-calm-and-download-this-appgoes 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.

Continue reading Keep Calm and Download this App

Study: Should Mindfulness Meditation be Prescribed for Anxiety?

Mindfulness is something which the medical world has yet to fully accept as a Study: Should Mindfulness Meditation be Prescribed for Anxiety? 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.

Continue reading Study: Should Mindfulness Meditation be Prescribed for Anxiety?

Say Hello to Ella and Goodbye Pain

Today, it seems as though there’s an app for everything—whatever your problem,say-hello-to-ella-and-goodbye-pain technology seems to have a solution. And why should health care be any different? The world of mHealth (mobile health) is constantly expanding. Soon, those suffering from physical pain on a daily basis will also be able to start experiencing the benefits of mobile health with the help of Ella.

Continue reading Say Hello to Ella and Goodbye Pain

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

Virtual Reality Meditation: A New Way to Relax

Virtual reality… another device to help us mindlessly waste time, play more Virtual Reality Meditation: A New Way to Relaxgames 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.

Continue reading Virtual Reality Meditation: A New Way to Relax

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?

Humana and eMindful – More Than Just Health Insurance

Humana and eMindful - More Than Just Health Insurance

Have you ever been at work feeling tired and unfocused, like you’re not accomplishing anything? Most of us feel like this at some point throughout the workweek. One survey has shown that 31% of people waste at least 30 minutes each workday and another 31% waste an entire hour feeling unproductive. One way to combat wasted time is by practicing mindfulness at work.

Continue reading Humana and eMindful – More Than Just Health Insurance

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.

Continue reading Stop Multitasking, It’s Wearing You Down!

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:

Continue reading Pokemon Go: Does “Augmented Reality” Augment Reality?

amaZEN U: An Amazing Way to Bring Yoga to Schools

 

amaZEN U: An Amazing Way to Bring Yoga to Schools

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.

Continue reading amaZEN U: An Amazing Way to Bring Yoga to Schools

Could the Internet be Making us Dumber?

 

Could the Internet be Making us Dumber?

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!

Continue reading Could the Internet be Making us Dumber?

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

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

Sign up to receive a free, 5 minute guided meditation that helps you gain control over your smartphone, instead of being controlled by it. 

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