Friday, March 17, 2017

Who Controls your Life, you or your Phone?


I love my iPhone and the multitude of things that it does.  However, I have noticed that smart phones can be pretty addicting and all-consuming.  Have you noticed:

  • people walking down the street and driving (yikes!) looking at their phones

  • your child/teen/spouse keeping his or her face glued to the phone while you are trying to have a conversation

  • increased addiction to social media and news that may be real or fake due to the easy proximity of the phone

  • family dinners that consist of phone engagement rather that family engagement

  • procrastination of homework and chores due to the endless fascination with the phone

  •    forfeiting of real life activities and events in favor of just sitting around with the phone
  • that your child texts all night instead of sleeping 




The list goes on.  Let’s think about setting limits.  Perhaps phones should get down time so conversations and real human interactions can flow.  We don’t need phones at meal time.  We can put away phones before bed, possibly in a separate room if the phone is too irresistible.  We can even declare a day or part of a day as phone free, and put all the phones in a basket, and maybe play a board game or go for a walk.


If you think perhaps your phone controls your life, and maybe your kids’ lives, take pause and re-take control of your life.  Set a good example for your kids and nudge them into activities that are so much fun, they won’t miss their phones.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Practicing Good Sleep Hygiene



 Most of us know that getting sufficient sleep is important to maximize productivity.  The exact amount needed varies from person to person.  However, due to stress or annoying body rhythms, sometime it is difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. 


Here are 13 tips to improve your whole family’s sleep hygiene: 

1. Get moderate exercise daily, preferably in the morning or late afternoon.

2. If you can’t fall asleep in 20 minutes, read some more or switch rooms. It is much easier to fall asleep when you feel sleepy.

3. Maximize exposure to bright light during the day and minimize it at night. Use a nightlight in the bathroom.

4. Create comfortable sleep conditions (think mattress and temperature).

5. Read something relaxing in bed to get your mind off your own stuff. Use a book or kindle, but not a bright light.

6. Limit naps to less than 30 minutes, or else you will fall into a deep sleep, and it may be difficult to fall asleep again later.


7. Some foods, like bananas, have tryptophan, which can help you fall asleep.

8. Your body naturally produces melatonin at night, but if you don’t feel sleepy, over-the-counter melatonin at bedtime may help.

9. Avoid stimulants or sedatives close to bedtime, including coffee, soda, chocolate, and alcohol.


10. Avoid heavy meals.

11. Minimize liquids 2-3 hours before bedtime.

12. It really helps to add some down time to the end of your day.

13. If you have trouble falling asleep, do not look at the clock. You don’t want to get stressed about not getting enough sleep, which can make falling asleep even harder.






Source: Peter J. Houri, Sleep Specialist from the Mayo Clinic

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Shocking Truth About Multi-Tasking

How does Multi-Tasking Affect Productivity?


When we multitask, it often seems like we are getting so much accomplished.  But our brains are fooling us.

Did you know that the brain can’t really do two things at the same time?  When we multitask, the brain has to rapidly shift its attention from one task to another.  Then it has to shift back.  If you multiply these shifts by all the times you switch activities, you will actually lose some time.  MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller noted that our brains are "not wired to multitask well... when people think they're multitasking, they're actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do, there's a cognitive cost."

One reason people love to multi-task so much is the illusion of getting more accomplished more quickly.  Another reason is that for every tiny task that you perform, such as answering a text, your brain rewards you with a dollop of dopamine, our reward hormone that we get for instant gratification.

In addition, research shows that while focusing on one activity, the brain uses the hippocampus for memory; however, while multi-tasking, the brain uses the stratum, which leads to superficial understanding and shorter term memory of the material.  Therefore, if you really want to be efficient, you need to concentrate on one project at a time.  The gratification dopamine burst will be less frequent, but your accomplishment will be real and comprehensive.

Do you have children or teens who are addicted to their phones?  By interrupting their homework to check texts and answer Face Time, they will not accomplish their homework as thoroughly and will certainly lose time.

Here are some strategies for maximizing productivity by limiting multitasking:


·         Do not multi-task projects that require thought, analysis, and judgment, like many homework assignments.  Give these tasks your full attention to maximize performance.  Take breaks to check email, phone calls, or go for a walk, but concentrate on your task for at least 20 minutes straight.
·         If you must multitask, choose 2 activities, one which is mindless.  For example, folding laundry or doing dishes can easily be paired with talking on the phone.  Regarding homework, limit multitasking to background music and using the internet to help research a project or calling a friend specifically about a project.
·         You and your child can do an experiment.  Try an activity while concentrating exclusively on it and again while multitasking.  Which way has the better result?
·         Keep an eye on your child by having him do homework in a family area or have an open door policy to his room.
·         Have family dinners with a no-electronics policy to generate bonding and meaningful discussions.



Finally, how do parents multitask?  Do we “listen” to our children and spouses while doing one or two other activities, or do we give them our full attention?  It’s true that many of us have too much to do each day, but we, too, will improve productivity and reduce stress while keeping multitasking to a minimum.