“It can wait.”
How much time do you spend on your phone? Maybe you scroll through social media or check emails, maybe you even use your phone to – gasp – talk, like make or take phone calls. Ha, that last one’s crazy, right?
Now think about how much time you spend on your phone because of notifications. Either responding to notifications or simply needing to look further into one that pops up.
A notification might come from Facebook or Twitter, maybe you have notifications for breaking news or up-to-the-minute sports scores, or you have email notifications constantly lighting up your home screen.
I’m going to drop something on you that’s going to seem outlandish: other than text messages, I have no notifications enabled on my phone. That means when someone tweets at me, likes my Instagram photo, or sends me an email, I don’t know about it instantly.
Remember the slight gasp when I suggested using your phone for talking? I imagine that is now amplified, perhaps bordering on horror, as most think about the idea of having no notifications on their phone. And what probably seems crazier? I think it’s the best way to be.
As a 35-year-old and especially as someone who works in public relations, the fact that I’m not attached at the hip with my phone probably seems bizarre. Taking it a step further, I bring my no-distractions approach into other areas of my life.
I often close my email at work so I can focus on, well, doing work. I have a separate iPod for music, simply so I’m not distracted by anything at the gym. I don’t run outside with headphones and I only bring my phone as a safety precaution on select runs because I like the freedom of no calls, texts, or connections with anyone other than myself and my thoughts.
I get it when people think my behavior is crazy. It’s not normal, at all. But I’d like to talk about the upside of minimizing distractions and shying away from hyper-connectedness as it relates to wellness.
Nearly everyone is addicted to their phone these days, both at work and at home. I don’t need to tell you all the statistics of how many times most people check their phones each day or how much time is spend responding to requests vs. being present and productive.
I believe that most people think seeing notifications and responding at the drop of the hat makes them feel good, like they have control over that part of life. But I wonder if this hyper-connected world actually causes more stress and anxiety, and is hurting our happiness and wellness.
On the flip side, I truly believe my simple practice of disabling notifications and proactively stepping away from technology often makes me more present, clearer-minded, more productive, happier, and, ultimately, well.
Do my efforts to eliminate distractions mean I sometimes miss calls, have delayed responses to emails, or not instantly know if someone liked my latest tweet? Yep. But the world hasn’t ended yet.
I recently watched an episode of Parks and Rec where my favorite character, Ron Swanson, attempts to go off the grid – not for wellness reasons, because he despises the government and anyone knowing too much of his personal info. Anyway, this gets him in trouble with his wife, who reminds him that he’s a husband and father, and often that means people need to get ahold of him.
99% of the time, things can wait. And if it truly is urgent, that’s why text notifications are the one thing enabled on my phone. I think Ron would appreciate that kind of compromise.
Now, I understand that this approach can’t work for everyone. For example, my coworker, Jessi, is responsible for monitoring company reviews, requests for info, and social comments, and responding in a timely manner. It quite literally is her job to be responsive and some days, I don’t know how she does it.
But for the rest of you, I challenge you to take this approach, just for one week. Shut off your notifications, give yourself permission to close your email and ignore phone calls, and enjoy the feeling of being present and productive, with minimal interruption and distraction.
If you do this, please let me know how it went – did you feel better or have more anxiety?
The comments are also your space to share your opinion on this topic so do it. Or as always, tweet me, @LindsayIRL – just know that I won’t get respond right away. But I will get back to you.