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How To Be Smarter Than Your Smartphone

Most of us experience an influx of never-ending digital contact each day. We’ve become accustomed to a barrage of work and/or personal emails, texts, and notifications from our social media channel(s) of choice. To keep up with the steady stream and for FOMO (fear of missing out), our minds multitask to process it all, which ultimately makes us a lot more stressed and a lot less productive. I’m going to share a simple, yet very effective, approach to messaging that can change the course of your day.

During work, are you responding to email throughout the day? Maybe you’re on the go when you hear the notification on your smartphone and you fire off a response. Or maybe you’re busy working on a project, the notification beeps and you quickly change gears to answer. You may set aside time to answer a number of emails, but find yourself distracted by phone notifications or people intruding on that time. This way of relating to on-going interruptions taxes our brain and fragments our attention.

The following simple tips from my book, The Now Effect, will help you to sharpen your focus, be more effective, and feel less stressed.

Enjoy an E-mail Meditation

Set aside a specific window of time to address e-mails. Recognize that it’s natural for your mind to wander off and when it does, practicing seeing where your mind goes, spend a moment there, and then gently bring yourself back to the task at hand. This is called “See, Touch, Go.”

Be Present

When you’re not working on email, be present with the other important aspects of your work or personal life. If you’re working on a presentation, focus solely on creating that presentation. If thoughts come to your mind about other tasks, note them down quickly in your planner or task list. Try to batch process similar tasks so your attention is focused on related tasks in a sequential manner.

If you’re taking a break and talking to a friend at the proverbial water cooler, pay attention to that conversation. Don’t allow yourself to be enslaved by thoughts of what you need to work on next – enjoy the break away from your desk, then return to it refreshed and ready to refocus.

In your personal life, when you’re with your friends and family, put the phone on silent, and be with your friends and family. Don’t spend more time looking at your screen than your kids. Kids can be stressful, and it’s easy to default to a screen that seems less stressful and provides entertainment. But resist the temptation, and focus on what really matters in your life.

Reclaiming control over digital messaging is a direct path to feeling empowered and more free in your life.

Give these simple practices a try. Experiment for a week and see what you notice.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

How To Be Smarter Than Your Smartphone

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is creator of the six month online program A Course in Mindful Living, author of the book Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion, The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler: Quick Exercises to Calm Your Mind, the premier eCourse Basics of Mindfulness Meditation: A 28 Day Program, the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations. Join The Now Effect Community for free Daily Now Moments and a Weekly Newsletter. Dr. Goldstein is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles.

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APA Reference
Goldstein, E. (2018). How To Be Smarter Than Your Smartphone. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 23, 2020, from


Last updated: 29 Jul 2018
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