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From Facebook and Instagram to the incessant barrage of emails, technology sure can be distracting. Research has also found that it can have a negative impact on your mind.
The good news is that it doesn't have to. TODAY correspondent Maria Shriver interviewed Adam Gazzaley, neuroscientist at the University of California, San Francisco, and author of "The Distracted Mind," on the topic.
Here are his tips to quiet the mind and be happier and healthier:
1. Simply be aware.
Thanks to all of the research he's done, Gazzaley has changed how he interacts with technology.
"I'm now aware that when I'm having a conversation with my loved one and I'm on the phone, this quality is diminished," he said. "Or when I'm trying to do an email and I'm on a conference call, they're both diminished."
What does that mean for those of us who pride ourselves on being skilled multi-taskers?
"Really, what you're doing is you're switching the brain networks associated with each of them as you move from one to the other," Gazzaley explained. "With each switch between the networks, there's a little bit of loss of the quality of that information that you're holding."
2. Set boundaries with technology.
Basically, bring more intention to each task.
"I will say, OK from 9 to 11, I'm going to multi-task away. I'm going to be on email. I'm going to have music on. I'm going to check Facebook every once in a while," Gazzaley said. "Because the things I'm doing are just low level. They're boring."
But for something that requires more brain power and concentration — it's time to tune out the noise.
"From 11 to noon, I'm going to focus on that article I'm writing," he stressed. "And I'm going to do one thing. I'm just going to give it singular attention because I know that that's how you get the highest quality."
3. Don't forget to take small breaks.
Taking short breaks from staring at your computer screen can do wonders. Ask a coworker to join you for a quick walk outside or go talk with a colleague instead of sending an email.
"Those breaks really give a period of restoration. They can also help with the burden of anxiety and boredom," Gazzaley said.
Experts stress it's also important to talk to your kids about technology. Their brains are still developing and are most vulnerable to distractions. Start with ground rules, like no phones at the dinner table — and have them turn off their phones during homework time.