3 reasons you should treat your attention like money.

How many times have you heard the phrase “pay attention?” Too many to count I’m sure, but have you ever stopped to think about what it means? Although the expression can be traced back hundreds of years, its meaning has evolved to become more literal. The verb ‘pay’ means “to render, bestow or give” something, such as a compliment, a visit or one’s respects. But now, when applied to the noun ‘attention,’ the most fitting meaning is “to give over a certain amount of something in exchange for something else.” Which begs the question, what is it exactly that we’re exchanging our attention for? 

Given the context of the current so called ‘attention economy,’ I think we should be giving this question some serious consideration. In fact, I think we should give it the same consideration as we do when we pay money for something. Sometimes we think a lot about how much we’re spending and what...

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Witnessing the zombies among us.

They are all around us.

Among our family and friends.

At work and at school.

In our living rooms and bedrooms.

Driving cars and walking the streets,

some are more obvious than others.

But I see them.

Maybe you see them too.

 

They are trapped,

often for hours.

Lifeless and lost to us.

They’re adrift in that other world.

The one that held so much promise.

Knowledge,

entertainment,

connection,

and progress.

A better life,

we were told.

But the value it delivers is fleeting.

The consequences are not.

Diversion,

isolation,

anxiety,

and discontent.

 

We reach out,

hoping to connect with them.

They try to reply

but can’t tear their eyes from the screen.

Their attention is no longer theirs to focus.

They’re stuck in an endless loop,

one designed to hijack our minds.

They / we are digital zombies.

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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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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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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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Do you think device-free social spaces are needed?

A local coffee shop has been getting a lot of attention due to their recently imposed weekend laptop ban. The owner cites two reasons for such severe measures. The first being a lack of seating for patrons during their busiest days, which results in lost revenue for the cafe. The second being the antisocial environment created by a room full of individuals wearing headsets and staring at screens for hours at a time. In addition to the ban, the cafe is also limiting use of their Wi-Fi to a half-hour per customer per purchase. Not surprisingly, these changes are receiving mixed reviews from customers.

Restaurants and cafes have been navigating the positives and negatives of our growing digital connectivity for a number of years. On the one hand, the popularity of sharing food and décor photos on social media has helped many establishments grow their business. However, the realities of our device-obsessed culture has also impacted the experience of customers and staff alike in a...

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How using your digital devices can impact the health of others.

You know how horrible and harmful secondhand smoke is? Even if you’re not the person smoking, it’s been scientifically proven how badly you are affected when you are near someone who is. Well, it looks like technology is also having a negative impact on the people around us when we’re glued to our digital devices. Now, before you call me crazy, let me clarify—not all the effects are physically dangerous. Some are merely annoying but many can actually be harmful from a mental health standpoint.

Most people have heard of the term phubbing by now. It refers to snubbing someone when you’re paying attention to your phone instead of the person you’re with. Sadly, it’s become quite common, to the point where we expect it to happen quite regularly. But it’s a still an unpleasant experience to feel alone while in the company of others. This behaviour has been proven to impact the self-esteem of the person being phubbed, leaving them annoyed,...

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