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.