Let’s face it, when smart phones first came out, notifications sounded like a great idea. No doubt, with all these great apps, how could anyone keep up with all the information. I’m sure all of us know by now the problem with every app seeking to declare its importance all the time. The result of this is devastating to not only our time but our sanity. I can help you take back control of your day by using these features optimaly or just should you why you should turn off notifications.
I used to be just like you, or at least in relation to notifications. As a standard, I allowed every app to ding, buzz and popup into my daily life. I felt as though I needed them so that I could stay current and responsible to everything. By doing this I let my phone and others dictate every moment of my day. That email that just came in with a coupon or question from an acquaintance… Twitter telling me to check out the latest news… Instagram and Facebook reminding me of something fun last or next weekend… All this adds up to major distraction, leading to anxiety and general out of control craziness.
In order for us to fully take ownership of our lives we must rule our focus. There’s definitely a balance to be achieved here. Some notifications are good, but which ones? I say turn them all OFF, but that is probably not feasible for everyone. That’s OK, I can help you; work through this process to find you own notification nirvana.
Turn off notifications
First, turn off all notifications. Keep them off for at least one full day. I really recommend that you do this at a minimum for three days and for those of you that really want to push the envelope a full week. Now I know what some of your thinking, “what happens if somebody calls me or sends me a text and I miss something important?” I didn’t say turn off your phone, just the notifications. During this time just plan to check your phone every couple of hours. If you want a gold star try going 4 or 5 hours!
Now, what are you supposed to gain from this? You’ll easily see, even after one day how much time you gain by not having that constant ring/vibration every few minutes reminding you of what you should be doing, and I say that with a grimace. You’ll find out that no matter what was pinging away really wasn’t that important. Sure maybe a call went to voicemail or you didn’t answer your text immediately but that is OK! Waiting to get back to someone will give you time to focus.
Practice some mindfulness
If you want a real buzz, you can even practice mindfulness during this “wait time.” It’s OK, take a deep breath. If you are over 30, you remember this from when a “land line,” (home or work phone) was our chief communication device. It was perfectly normal to return a phone call hours or even a day later. Humanity has not changed that much in only 10 years to warrant the constant need respond to everyone so quickly.
As for all of the other apps, social media, games, news, entertainment, chiming away or I mean chipping away at your soul, I hope you will leave those turned off as they really add zero value to your life. The apps are still there, pick a good time to login check out what’s going on and then GET OUT!
Social Media Today reports the average person spends nearly 2 hours per day on social media. That over 18 days a year and a whopping 5 years and 4 months in a lifetime, YIKES! Nope, you didn’t take that vacation or learn something fun or heck even fly to the moon 32 times (Yes, you could have.) Notifications are a big part of this. If you are reminded less you will spend less time on social media and gain hundreds of hours back for your enjoyment.
Grab some paper and write a list of the apps that have notifications that you feel help you daily. It is different for everyone, no judgement here. For me this is text messages, phone calls, calendar items, to do items from my favorite task app “Things,” alarms, bank notices and Amazon shipments. During the week I activate Twitter, LinkedIn and Evernote for my business.
Now take this list and cut it into thirds. Group one is for the items you absolutely know you can’t live without. Group two is for items you think you need but not really sure and group three, the rest. Now begin by turning notifications on for group one only and work this way for a week. After a week if you still feel you are in need of items from the other groups, activate group two for a week and repeat. Hopefully you will find that you don’t need group two or three, but no doubt you will reduce greatly the number of notifications over all.
All those notification settings!
Lastly, I want you to take notice of the different settings that are available to you for each notification. I recommend you start by turning off all the setting with the exception of the badges. Try this out for a while and then slowly add more functions as you see fit. I will have a follow up article that addresses notification types and settings very soon. Make sure to sign up to be notified if you would like more help like this.