Why I Turned Off Notifications

It’s been three weeks since I decided to turn off my email notifications on my phones (Yes, I have three. Only two are used as smartphones; the third is waiting out its contract so I treat it like a dumb phone.) and iPad. My focus and battery lives are thanking me for the quiet.

I’m your typical alpha type who needs to always answer emails, especially ones related to our organization’s accounts. You know the kind. We answer emails while in bed at 10pm and look at our phones and computers first thing in the morning. One day, as I stared at my overwhelmingly long ToDo List while notifications started pouring in, it dawned on me. I could actually be getting more done if there weren’t so many things demanding my attention.

My problem was not being able to focus. I was distracted. An article on LinkedIn on a Harvard Economist’s productivity secret has proven my point.

In less than five minutes, I turned off all email notifications on my devices except for the iPad. On my iPad, I trimmed them down to just one account. The relief was instantaneous.

Here’s what I learned:

I can be fully present. Focusing on chunks of time throughout my day have given my projects the undivided attention they deserve. No glancing at notifications and going off on rabbit trails because that one link I click leads to several more. I’m fully engaged on one thing in blocks of time.

Nothing is really on fire. Urgency is subjective unless something is a matter of life and death, or the difference between being employed or fired. In our organization, which is certainly different from yours, I’ve learned our culture and am familiar with what we classify under Quadrant One: Urgent and Important. If something absolutely demands my attention, I am a mere phone call away. Eight out of ten times, people can wait for an email reply.

I only have twenty-four hours each day to get things done. In the grand scheme of things, do I really want to spend more time than I need catching up on email and social networks? My new strategy is including blocks of time dedicated solely to catching up and posting. While I’m a big fan of automated posts for the work accounts, I try to avoid doing this with my personal ones. I do, however, binge schedule automated posts on occasion when I feel there’s just too much good stuff to share. For the most part, I tweet or post in real time.

With our big event, the World Conference, happening this month, I might have to turn my notifications on again. My phones will be blowing up with Quadrant One messages and my batteries will be overworked. At the end of it all, I will simply turn them off again.

The Best One for the Job

In a recent department heads strategic meeting, my colleagues discovered just how many plates I spin at work: social strategy, internal communications, video production, regional news site, quarterly partner newsletter, monthly partner thank-you receipts, global coordination, writing, editing, events promotions, and a myriad of other things.

My boss made a comment that summarized our discussion as we identified the opportunity costs of a new organizational effort I am leading:

“You’re the best one for the job, but these jobs are not the best use of your time.”

It got me thinking about the importance of finding balance and focusing on tasks that are the most productive use of my time.

What other things have I been struggling to make happen that I should not even be working on in the first place? How does one transition from doer to manager to director in a traditional office setting?

Getting to Know my Makeshift Standing Desk

I started flirting with the idea of a makeshift standing desk so I decided to actually “create” one out of boxes. It’s hideous, I know, but we’re starting to get along. Not without a fight, I must add.

My feet are killing me as I type this. M-U-R-D-E-R. I’m not in my four-inch heels when I’m at my desk; I’ve been standing in my bare feet. I made it through my first day on Wednesday hardly sitting down and again yesterday with breaks for meetings. So glad they were two long meetings. My feet were grateful. I decided to wear my Nikes to see how big a difference I would feel. Much more comfortable than being in my bare feet but my feet are killing today. Did I mention my feet are killing me today?

Nikes

Hello, Nike-shod feet!

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Flirting with a Makeshift Standing Desk

I know. It looks awful. But considering that I’m in transition before I actually commit to a real or tabletop standing desk, I’ve decided to create my own temporary solution. When I got to work this morning, I stood at my desk and tried typing on my keyboard. I wear four-inch platform heels a lot — I did today — so my desk surface was a bit out of my reach.

Off to the mail room I went to rescue boxes. I saved these two before they were collapsed and sent off to be crushed, liquified into pulp, and then resurrected in a different form. They were more than happy to oblige! This is what I came up with!

DIY Tabletop Standing Desk

My DIY tabletop standing desk made of… two empty boxes!

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How Mind Mapping Helps Organize My Work Life

When I joined Every Nation Ministries’ Nashville office in March 2009, my job description was basically take notes in meetings and assist with communications. I jumped at the chance to return to what I love doing with an organization that I love. (I worked at the Manila office as web content coordinator for the international website from 2005 to 2007.) It was a bonus. I would’ve jumped at anything to get out of working at a hotel where I was a square peg in a round hole.

I was promoted to coordinator in 2010. My number one strength is the Learner Theme so I’m very good at… learning. I put my theme to use consuming everything I could to create communications that were consistent and effective.

I celebrated my third anniversary with us this March with a new team member, videographer Jay Kim, from our church in New York, MSNY. He’s brilliant. I love his work!

This June we became “Media & Communications,” and we added one more team member. Rachel Baily is our latest brilliant addition. I’m humbled to be in such great company with these two talented and bright individuals.

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