Confession time….I removed all alerts, pop ups, notifications and dings from my phone and laptop. WHAT??!?!?!?! But, but… How do you??!?
Yes, it’s true. About a year ago, I realized that a source of stress in my life was staring back at me in the form of emails, messages and alerts from apps (including social media). Sadly, it took going on a beach vacation to realize it. By leaving the phone in the hotel room, it forced me to be present and enjoy the beach. Once I got home, I took the plunge and decided that I need to control technology, not the other way around.
In a few simple steps, my phone was now a device I didn’t dread picking up and I controlled which apps and notifications got my attention. Same for my laptop. I figure that I spent many years being an adult without a smart phone or laptop and I started working at a time when faxes ruled (like totally!).
You know what happened? Nobody got mad at me. The world didn’t implode. I didn’t miss anything important. When it was time to devote attention (not as a distraction – big difference) to an app or message or social media post, I could do it without guilt or the feeling that I was avoiding something else.
What does this mean for me now? I use time blocking to organize my administrative work and I have a sequence I follow so that all alerts and notifications get my full attention. The critical distinction is that I control when and where my attention is aimed vs. the Pavlovian response to every little ding and bong emitted by social media, apps or email accounts. And, if you have personal accounts in addition to business accounts, they multiply quickly don’t they?
Now, does this mean I am unreachable unless it’s “time” for that particular task or app? No not at all. The key to making this work is to be disciplined in the WHEN and HOW you interact with your accounts on social media, apps and email. Obviously, my business accounts are a top priority and I feel that I’m more responsive and effective operating this way.
In addition to my ban on notifications, and to make the most of the time I have and not feel creeping dread, here are a few apps that I think are essential to being more organized:
- Dropbox – essential document and file sharing site
- Mint – budget tracker and bill payer
- Pocket – perfect for commutes or any time you can finally read those articles you bookmarked
- Google Keep – a note taking app that’s elegant for its simplicity and ease of use
- Shoeboxed – scan those receipts and throw them out
The line for you may be different but many people share with me that they are drowning in technology. The average person spends about 24 hours a week online. That’s a part time job!
I’m a big proponent of leveraging technology to be more productive and effective in our lives. It doesn’t matter what you do, technology has enhanced our lives and output. Until it doesn’t.
What are some of your favorite apps or tools to be more organizer and not drown in technology? Would a total notification ban work for you? I’m all ears!