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Tag: focus

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

25 Mindfulness Quotes to Help You Hit the Pause Button

In our modern society, technology is often an obstacle to mindfulness. It’s so easy to reach for your smartphone when the pangs of loneliness, fear, or boredom appear.

After all, it offers instant relief. And we’re only human.

If you want to break this reflex and empower yourself when it comes to technology, you’re in the right place. In today’s blog, we begin with inspiration.

We’ve gathered 25 mindfulness quotes to help you remember why it’s so important to accept the present, embrace your feelings, and welcome the gifts that mindfulness offers us.

25 Mindfulness Quotes

Use these mindfulness quotes for encouragement or motivation. Share them with friends and family.

Then explore the other resources on our website to gain control of technology– making it a tool for mindfulness rather than a barrier to your practice.

Accepting (Even Loving) the Present

These mindfulness quotes focus on the inherent value and beauty of the present moment. It’s difficult to be attentive every second of every day, but what might you miss if your focus is always drawn to your phone?

These quotes remind us to be awake and grateful for every moment we have.

    • “Rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite. It actually takes guts.” -Pema Chödrön
    • “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
    • “Now is the future that you promised yourself last year, last month, last week. Now is the only moment you’ll ever really have. Mindfulness is about waking up to this.” – Mark Williams
    • “The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.” – Henry Miller
    • “In today’s rush, we all think too much — seek too much — want too much — and forget about the joy of just being.” – Eckhart Tolle
    • “In this moment, there is infinite possibility.” – Victoria Moran
    • “We have only now, only this single eternal moment opening and unfolding before us, day and night.” – Jack Kornfield
    • “Without giving up hope—that there’s somewhere better to be, that there’s someone better to be—we will never relax with where we are or who we are.” – Pema Chödrön
    • “The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

Embracing our Feelings

When we reach for technology, we’re often avoiding uncomfortable feelings. Practicing mindfulness allows for a space to develop between the feeling that arises and the act of avoidance.

These quotes talk about how mindfulness clarifies what we really need. They also remind us that all feelings will pass.

    • “By learning to allow different types of discomfort to simply stay in the room with you, without your scrambling for a button to push (real or metaphorical), you make discomfort matter less. The pool of things you’re afraid of shrinks. It becomes a lot less important to control circumstances because you know you can handle moments of uncertainty or awkwardness or disappointment without an escape plan.” – David Cain
    • “We use mindfulness to observe the way we cling to pleasant experiences and push away unpleasant ones.” – Sharon Salzberg
    • “Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).” – James Baraz
    • “Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn’t more complicated than that. It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it.” – Sylvia Boorstein
    • “Everything that has a beginning has an ending. Make your peace with that and all will be well.” – Jack Kornfield
    • “We might begin by scanning our body . . . and then asking, “What is happening?” We might also ask, “What wants my attention right now?” or, “What is asking for acceptance?” – Tara Brach
    • “Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
    • “We spend a lot of time judging ourselves for feelings that we had no role in summoning. The only thing you can control is how you handle it.” – Dan Harris

The Gifts of Mindfulness

With concerted effort, mindfulness can help you reduce stress, improve memory, increase focus, and minimize emotional reactivity. In essence, it can improve your quality of life.

These quotes are about the amazing gifts of peace and clarity that mindfulness offers us.

    • “Today, you can decide to walk in freedom. You can choose to walk differently. You can walk as a free person, enjoying every step.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
    • “Stepping out of the busyness, stopping our endless pursuit of getting somewhere else, is perhaps the most beautiful offering we can make to our spirit.” – Tara Brach
    • “Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” – Carl Jung
    • “When we stop dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, we’re open to rich sources of information that we’ve been missing out on – information that can keep us out of the downward spiral and poised for a richer life.” – Mark Williams
    • “The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
    • “Above all, we cannot afford not to live in the present. He is blessed over all mortals who loses no moment of the passing life in remembering the past.” – Henry David Thoreau
    • “A crowded mind leaves no space for a peaceful heart.” – Christine Evangelou
We hope these mindfulness quotes have given you some inspiration! Which of these quotes resonated with you? Did a favorite quote not make the list? Let us know in the comments.

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.

10 Mindfulness-based tools to reduce distractions and improve your focus

We’ve gathered 10 of the best mindfulness-based tools that put the power back in your hands. Tools to reduce distractions and help you get your best work done.

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 reduce distractions

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!

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

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

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

10 Mindfulness-Based Tools to Reduce Distractions and Improve Your Focus
Do Nothing for 2 Minutes is exactly what it sounds like. A simple way to take a mindful break in your day.

Use these tools to reduce distractions and get your best work done

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

 

Use these tools to reduce distractions as well as maximize your focus, so you can get your best work done.

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 of 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 you love-hate?) might just be your best tool for managing stress and helping you focus.

Mindfulness meditation apps are an inexpensive way to test the waters with a new mindfulness practice.

But they’re also great for trying out meditation if you’re new to it as well. 

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

Here are the 10 best mindfulness meditation apps to manage the craziness of daily life.
Continue reading 10 Best Mindfulness Meditation Apps to Manage the Craziness of Daily Life

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

How Little Bit of Gratitude Can Change You

With the price of healthcare today, many individuals and professionals are how-little-bit-of-gratitude-can-change-youlooking for ways to shorten treatment lengths and lower costs. The answer to this may be a simple thing called gratitude. There have been multiple studies done on the physical, psychological, and social benefits of gratitude, all of which come to the same conclusion: gratitude can lead to a healthier and happier quality of life. So, let’s break down some of the reasons for practicing gratitude.

Continue reading How Little Bit of Gratitude Can Change You

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?

Hack Your Mind Event: Technology and the Assault on Solitude

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.

 

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

Be Happier & More Present Tomorrow: 5 Tips

We all want to be more present, whether it’s for our kids, or significant other, or be-happier-more-present-tomorrow-5-tipsjust ourselves, right? And we all want to be happier, no matter how happy or unhappy you are, we crave that feeling of happiness.

But why is so hard to just be happy? What makes it so difficult to live in the present moment?

The answer to those two questions will be different for everyone. It might be that you’re worried about the future, or you’re dwelling on something in the past. No matter what, we all have an opportunity to try to live happier and more present life—it just might take some effort.

Try using these tips to teach yourself to be more present:

1. Don’t look to external sources for approval. Look to yourself.

You don’t have control over what others do, but you do have control over your own thoughts and emotions. Reassurance is great, but you don’t always need the approval of others for you to feel happy. Step outside of your own mind for a moment. Remind yourself to be present and give yourself a bit of encouragement! The only person that will always be there for you, is you.

2. Take control of your media consumption.

Social media, tv, radio. Yes, it is important to know what’s going on in the world, but it’s also important to know what’s going on within yourself and in your life. Social media can be a great way to help you keep in touch with others, but too much if it can make you feel disconnected. Be mindful of the way you use it.

Take a break from the media, hang out with your friend (in the real world, not online!), read a book. Do something that will allow you to live in the here and now.

3. Make a list of your goals, but don’t let them consume you!

A great way to motivate yourself and get your priorities straight is by listing your goals. But, at the same time, it can be easy to focus too much on those goals. So what should you do, throw away your list or at least stash it away somewhere that you won’t be seeing it constantly.

By identifying your goals, then letting them go, they’re staying in the future, where they’re meant to be. This allows you to stay in the present and work toward those future goals naturally.

4. Always be grateful.

Remind yourself of everything you have to be thankful for each day—maybe even multiple times a day! Doing this 1 simple thing can work wonders for reducing anxiety and stress.

5. Learn to become more mindful.

Journal for 10 minutes each night, focus on your breathing, learn to eat mindfully… there are so many different ways to practice mindfulness without meditation.

See a few different ways to incorporate mindfulness into your day here.

In theory, it’s not hard to be present and learn to be happier. But in practice, it takes time and effort to train our minds to live in the now.

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?

Increase Your Productivity Every Day with Deep Work

We all have had those times when we’re feeling a little crunched for time, we Increase Your Productivity Everyday with Deep Workhave so much to do, but so little time… but what if someone told you that you could get more done in less time? That would be impossible right? Not according to Cal Newport’s idea of “deep work.”

Continue reading Increase Your Productivity Every Day with Deep Work

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.

Continue reading Digital Distraction is Changing Our Ever-Evolving Minds

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.

Continue reading Taking Control of Notifications to Take Back Your Attention

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.

Continue reading Making Email Slow Again

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.”

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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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Is Living in the Here-and- Now Everything You Expected?

Is Living in the Here-and-Now Everything You Expected?

Is mindfulness, living in the here and now, really everything that people expect? With a little time and practice it can be.

It doesn’t matter what your reason was for getting into mindfulness in the first place, becoming more mindful could change you in ways you’ve never even considered. Many people begin their journey into mindfulness to help reduce stress and anxiety. It starts with short mediation sessions and grows into a way of life.

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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.

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3 Quick & Simple Meditation Techniques to Practice Each Day

 

3 Quick & Simple Meditation Techniques to Practice Each Day

Meditation is simple technique that anyone can use to help find calm, clarity, and relaxation during stressful times. Practicing meditation has countless benefits—both mental and physical. By practicing meditation just 20 minutes a day (they don’t even have to be 20 consecutive minutes) you’ll start seeing the benefits of this mindful practice. Try starting out with these 3 meditation techniques:

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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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Make Each Evening Worth Remembering

 

Make Each Evening Worth Remembering

Morning rituals are an important part of many people’s daily routines, but have you ever thought about evening rituals? Evening rituals can help to put us in a better, happier place at the end of the day and allow us to have a positive memory of the day.

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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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Presentation on Apps for Focus and Mindfulness at MIT

MIT Radius Mindful Group

 

I will be giving a presentation tomorrow (Tuesday, November 17) on apps that can help to promote focus and mindfulness at MIT (Room 4-270), as part of the Radius “Hack Your Mind” program.  There has been a boom in mindfulness apps over the last year or two, which makes this an exciting time to give the presentation.

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Mindful Technology Tip: How to Control Interruptions

Distraction technologyDo you find it hard to remain focused and mindful in the face of a constant barrage of interruptions from your devices: smartphone ringing, email notifications blinking, text messages chirping?  Fortunately there are a variety of ways to configure your devices to limit when, where, and how they interrupt you.

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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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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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