Let me tell you a tale of woe.
One day, I left both of my cell phones (one for work, one personal) at home. FOR AN ENTIRE DAY.
It was terrible fine. Truly, what I thought was going to make my life harder ended up making my work day way more efficient. However, I didn’t realize how much more efficient it had been until the next day, when I had my phones next to me all day.
Ding, buzz, alert! Ding, buzz, alert! Ding, buzz, alert!
On and on and on, my phones vibrated or buzzed or alerted me to some breaking email or news or social media update. None of it important, nothing that required taking my attention from my task and getting me off track every five minutes. No wonder some days I feel like I’m spinning in a hamster wheel! And most of the time I don’t even swipe my phone open to further investigate or read those emails. But that simple act of breaking my attention span is enough to derail me.
Coincidentally, I’ve been reading a book about living a simplified life (think decluttering everything from your home to your obligations and putting the emphasis on the real necessities in life to capture more joy). And the night after my epiphany about my phones being a huge distraction, lo and behold, there was a chapter about digital distractions and some tips on how to handle it all.
Step one was turn off the notifications.
Turn off notifications? Can I live like that? A life without knowing when I received an email or someone liked my Facebook post? (Also, why have I never thought of that before?)
I turned off all the notifications on my phone (with the exception of text messages and phone calls – I have two kiddos in different schools, so I’m not going to take the chance of missing important school notifications.) But otherwise, I haven’t heard a ding or a buzz or a beep all morning and it has been glorious.
Another tip is one that takes a bit more work: decluttering your email. Maybe you have the same issue – do you get near daily emails about products or services you use? Yep, me too. It can be tedious to go through and unsubscribe to each email, but there are some ways around that. Unroll.me, for example, allows you to see all of your email subscriptions and easily unsubscribe.
Whether or not you recognize how much of a distraction our devices can cause, I hope this helps you take a pause and think about how your life is ruled by that tiny computer in your pocket or next to you on your desk. While I’m not suggesting leaving your phones at home all day, you might try a digital detox and see what you discover about it in your own life. (And if you do, let me know in the comments so I can try it too!)