What makes the president of a social media company leave to run a company that combats smartphone addiction?

unplugging Dec 15, 2018

I interviewed the new CEO of Moment last week. In case you don’t know, Moment is an app designed to combat smartphone addiction by measuring your usage. It tracks the amount of time you spend on your phone, the number of times you pick it up and which apps you use the most.

I’ve been using Moment for almost 2 years now. A few weeks ago, I received an email announcing Moment’s new version, subscription service and CEO – Tim Kendall, formerly of Facebook and Pinterest. I was intrigued by their new CEO’s career path. How does one go from heading up companies that encourage people to spend time online to running one focused on helping people reduce the time they spend online? I decided to ask him that question myself.

I found out that becoming a parent was the catalyst for Tim’s career about-face. “I started getting personally affected by this issue of phone and device addiction about 2 to 3 years ago,” he said. “I was President of...

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Ideas for unplugging and improving your holiday spirit.

family unplugging wellbeing Dec 03, 2018

The holidays are supposed to be a blissful time of year but many people find themselves feeling stressed, isolated and sad. Our relationship with technology can contribute to this holiday malaise, given the amount of time we spend online and distracted. I wish we could change this just by saying “put your phone away and do something else” but I know that can be a struggle for some. If you find that’s the case, here are some activities that can reduce stress, strengthen your connection with others and hopefully bring you some joy during the festive season. You might need your devices to help organize some of them but all the good stuff happens offline. Happy holidays!

Wander for a While

We try to cram in so much in December that we end up racing from place to place and rushing all the time. How about taking time out for a walk? It doesn’t have to be long—10 minutes or more out of your day (or night). There should be no agenda, nothing to achieve except...

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Multitasking and how to get more done.

productivity tools work Nov 16, 2018

Multitasking is an amazing thing. By doing multiple things at once, we can improve our efficiency and productivity. It’s the key to being successful and happy! Or so we’re told. But I’ve learned otherwise so I’m calling BS on this misleading myth. 

The truth is that multitasking is not all it’s cracked up to be. Over the past two years I’ve learned the limitations of multitasking, when it does work and, more importantly, when it doesn’t. All this came about through the research I’ve been doing to overcome the state of distraction that has become our norm. The science of how our brain works makes it abundantly clear that most of what we believe about multitasking just isn’t true.

Through MRI technology, science has shown that our brains are not actually able to think about two things at once. When we try to, our brain reacts one of two ways:

  • At best, it divides its resources in two, applying half to one task and half to the...
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How I achieve my goals in the age of distraction.

productivity tools work Oct 29, 2018

I’m lucky—I’ve always been a fairly productive person, both in my personal and professional life. I seem to be hardwired to write ‘to do’ lists and I love to cross things off them. However, I realized a long time ago that my lists are never ending and, no matter how hard I try, I’m always disappointed that I never seem to get ahead. All this changed about two years ago, when I created some new habits to deal with the world of distraction that is now our reality.

One of the most useful new habits I have developed is to focus on 3 key daily tasks. I determine these tasks by identifying some specific goals that will deliver tangible and significant benefits to me professionally. Then I break these goals down into a series of small steps (i.e. tasks) that will lead to completing these larger accomplishments. For example, if I have a project for a client that’s due in six weeks, I work out all the tasks required to finish that project. Then I add...

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What would you give up to keep your smartphone?

wellbeing Oct 12, 2018

Do you ever think about your relationship with your smartphone? We think about our how we interact with others, such as our partner, children, co-workers, etc. We consider those relationships often, with an understanding that they can significantly impact our health and well-being.  Just look at all the number of articles, books and services on the subject. We usually know when those relationships are good for us and when they are not. But what about our smartphones?

I’ve interviewed people about their relationship with their phones and they’ve said things like “it’s a love/hate thing", "it has taken hold of me", "I panic if it’s not with me", "I wish I didn’t need it" and "I’m highly dependent on it.” If this was a friend of yours describing their relationship with someone else, I bet you’d be concerned and want to help them. But it’s just their phone, so we don’t consider it a problem.

So, how do you feel about...

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Will the new features in Appleā€™s iOS 12 fix our screen obsession?

tools unplugging wellbeing Jun 22, 2018

In case you haven’t heard yet, Apple held its annual developers’ conference in early June. They announced some new features in iOS 12, which launches this Fall, that will “help you limit distractions, focus, and understand how you're spending your time," according to Apple’s SVP of Software Engineering. But how much can they really help, given our current obsession with screens?

The new features include a tool called Screen Time—a dashboard that will provide data on your iPhone and iPad usage. It will show you how much time you spend on each individual app and across various categories of apps, both daily and weekly. You will also see how many notifications you received and how many times you picked up your device. It will even allow you to set daily limits on how much time you want to spend on specific apps.

Apple is also improving the Do Not Disturb feature. You will be able to block calls, texts and notifications from everyone except your VIP list,...

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Is your digital diet as healthy as the food you eat?

wellbeing Jun 04, 2018

If you’re like me, you put some thought and effort into the food you eat. I eat a lot of whole foods, with little to no processing. I make a conscious effort to eat fruits and vegetables often, and I try to stick with healthy, lean proteins. Most of the fats I eat are healthy fats and I avoid artificial additives as much as possible. Sure, I have the occasional indulgence—like buttered popcorn or, one of my favourites, a piece of dark chocolate. But I lead an active lifestyle and limit the amount of sugar in my diet. So, I’m completely comfortable with some treats mixed in with all the healthy food I consume. After all, while I try to fuel my body with foods that nourish me, I also want to enjoy life and not feel deprived.

I’ve been mindful about what I feed my body for many years, knowing how important it is. And yet, until a year and a half ago, I had never really stopped to consider what I feed my mind. But since then I have done a lot of research about...

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If you think your smartphone makes you smarter, think again.

productivity work May 22, 2018

They are called smartphones but does their effect on us make us dumb? I always thought there was a good chance that they impact our memory. When was the last time you memorized someone’s phone number or a short grocery list? We no longer need to with these handy devices in our pockets. And I knew they weren’t good for navigational skills which, I must confess, is not something I’ve ever been strong at anyway. My husband has a great sense of direction but mine is terrible so I often rely on the ever helpful and available Google Maps. But the idea that smartphones could actually make us dumb is one that never crossed my mind, until I read the results of a fascinating study from April 2017. It turns out our phones really can reduce our cognitive ability—and they can do it just by being in the room with us.

Wondering how that’s possible? Well, our capacity to think is determined by two factors: our working memory and our fluid intelligence. The first, our...

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How to be a superstar at work.

productivity work Apr 30, 2018

The pressure is on

You know the expression “it’s a dog-eat-dog world”? I never liked it because of the nasty image it conjures up but it does seem a fitting way to describe the business world today. Companies are cutting costs wherever they can. Jobs are being transformed or eliminated by technology. Reality is, the job market is competitive. Everyone is fighting to get ahead and stay ahead. 

In this environment, landing a good job and building a successful career is not as easy as it once was. There is a lot of pressure to keep up in whatever you do for a living if you want to survive. Even more so if you want to excel and be seen as a superstar in your field. But there is plenty of opportunity in the knowledge-based industries if you have one particular skill that is highly valued yet increasingly hard to find. And that skill is the ability to do ‘deep work.’

Where opportunity lives

Knowledge industries make money based largely on extracting...

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Everyone's so busy at work but is it the right kind of busy?

productivity work Apr 18, 2018

If you ask someone about their work and how it’s going, most people will complain about how busy they are. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time to get everything done. We are living in a time when technology is supposed to be making our lives easier yet we are working longer hours, feeling more stressed and struggling to get our ‘to do’ list done.

Why is that? What’s behind all this busyness we’re experiencing? Although most people are quick to say they’re busy, if you asked them if they are busy being productive, I think many would say ‘no.’ If we were busy being productive, I don’t think we would have as many issues or complain as much. I think many people, upon reflection, would acknowledge they are busy being distracted. There are so many interruptions and things vying for our attention every day in the workplace.

If we were busy being productive, we would be spending time on the things that really matter to our...

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