3 steps to apply Marie Kondo’s ‘art of tidying up’ to your smartphone.

tools wellbeing Feb 14, 2019

Between her best-selling books and Netflix show, Marie Kondo has become famous for her “art of tidying.” If you follow her KonMari method, she promises you’ll end up feeling calmer, inspired and more joyful. Admittedly, when I read her books a couple of years ago, I found them super useful. I applied her method to our condo and I think we’ve enjoyed a tidier, more peaceful home overall.

The funny thing is that I never considered applying her method to my digital devices. But, given how much time we spend on them, I recently decided to give it a try on my iPhone. And the results were well worth it! I’m now more relaxed when using my phone and yes, even a little more joyful. So, I did the same exercise with my iPad.

If you’d like to see what tidying up your smartphone can do for you, follow these steps.

#1 – First, declutter your phone. 

Start by unlocking your smartphone and closing all your apps. Then start working your way through each...

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Nomophobia may sound silly but it’s no laughing matter.

unplugging wellbeing Jan 28, 2019

If I told you about someone who was stressed or anxious if they didn’t have a bottle of alcohol with them constantly, would you think they have a problem? What if I said they couldn’t go to the bathroom or to bed without it? What if it was a pack of cigarettes instead? Or some other socially-identified drug? Would you be concerned about their health and wellbeing?

Rightly so, I think most of us would think that person has some issues that need to be dealt with. But for some reason we don’t seem to feel the same way if it’s a smartphone that person can’t be without. Being attached to a smartphone may sound trivial but some people are willing to go to some surprising extremes to keep their phones with them at all times.

Nomophobia is shorthand for ‘no-mobile-phone phobia’ and yes, it is a real thing. The term was coined in 2010 during a research study on the anxieties of smartphone users, commissioned by the UK Post Office. Back then, they...

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A simple technique for building stronger relationships.

family relationships work Jan 15, 2019

The idea for this article started when a long-time friend of mine admitted that she’s much more comfortable texting someone than talking to them. “Even me?”, I wondered. She told me this, by the way, when I called her because I had grown tired of texting back and forth. So, I phoned her instead to have what I consider a ‘real’ conversation. I was surprised at first to hear her confession but then I started thinking about how we communicate and how it’s changed with advancements in technology. 

I happen to know that my friend is not alone in her preference for text over telephone. In fact, research shows that many people prefer email, text, instant message or chat over talking—whether it’s on the phone, in person or through video. And it’s not just younger generations, though they are even more likely to feel this way. This shift is often cited as the reason for the growing number of people who feel lonely and...

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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 Apple’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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