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Pay Attention: Finding balance in the age of tech

In our new series, Pay Attention, we're looking at the role technology plays in our lives in a different way: its impact on our ability to focus and how we can recapture our attention from the devices that distract us. By the end of our series we hope to find the happy medium between the two.   

Part I: Day without technology

When is the last time you spent a day entirely free of technology?

To start our process and establish a baseline, our "CBS This Morning" cameras followed co-host John Dickerson at home to document how he uses his phone and computer on a typical Saturday. Then we went back for a not-so-typical Saturday where he abstained from technology for the entire day.

Pay Attention: John Dickerson goes a day without technology 03:39

On the "CBS This Morning" podcast, "How to Break Up With Your Phone" author Catherine Price offers tips on unplugging from your devices. Talking with CBS News' Michelle Miller, Price explains how our cell phones are affecting our brains and are designed to keep our attention. 

Price also joined the "CBS This Morning" table to break down her 30-day plan to "take back your life" from your digital devices. She said it's not about going on a "digital diet" per se but rather about "finding balance." And, yes, you should probably delete your Instagram. 

"So one thing that people do that messes them up when they try to change their relationship with their phone is that they jump in to making these little changes, like turning it to grayscale, without having a broader vision of what they want out of their relationship and also what they want to spend their newfound time on," Price said. 

"How to Break Up With Your Phone" author on practical ways to unplug 03:29

"CBS This Morning" co-host John Dickerson sits down with Dr. Michael Baime, director of University of Pennsylvania's mindfulness program, to discuss what devices are doing to our brain and how kids' relationship with technology differs from adults.  

Pay Attention: Using mindfulness to recapture your focus 22:42

Part II: Sensory deprivation 

Dickerson explores if sensory deprivation tanks can help short-circuit the noise. It's about as far as a person can get from the chirpy world of breaking news, social media, email and the rest of what pinballs through our heads these days.

How sensory deprivation and floating impacts the brain 06:24

He also writes about what he discovered in the process: "You can really lose yourself when there's no stopping point to the fishing line you cast. Time also dashed by. There was no boredom. Just being – and then suddenly I was awake and the hour was over." 

Part III: Forest bathing

Dickerson goes forest bathing, a practice of immersing yourself in nature by engaging the five senses. It's not a hike -- there is no destination or goal -- it's about discovery and awareness. He also speaks to some experts who explain how spending time in nature can nurture not just the brain, but the body too. 

Pay Attention: How "forest bathing" clears the mind and body 05:35

Part IV: Medium founder and former Twitter CEO Ev Williams

Dickerson sits down with Ev Williams, who Forbes called "the LeBron James of online publishing." He stepped down as Twitter CEO in 2010 and later started the blogging platform Medium. Williams, who remains on Twitter's board, regularly steps away from technology through meditation, yoga and walks in the woods. He discusses how he limits his kids' exposure to technology, his own and why there's value in being bored. 

Medium founder and former Twitter CEO Ev Williams on the value of being bored 05:29

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