It’s a little past nine. Your coffee cools off just as the sun warms up. It’s going to be a beautiful day.
Your brother texts you a hilarious video; you nearly spit out your coffee from laughing so hard. He always sends the best clips. Your boss sends an email congratulating you on a job well done for the report you turned in yesterday.
Your coworker asks you a question in Slack. You’re in a good mood so you provide a more detailed answer than the usual Yes or No.
Your Mom calls. How nice! It’s always fun to catch up about the past weekend. Your dentist emails you the bill from your previous appointment. You call and leave a voicemail as the amount is wrong. Your husband tags you in an Instagram post. You like it and start to scroll through your feed.
So many smiling faces…
The day sure is moving quickly
Your boss Slacks you. Where are you? The meeting started ten minutes ago! You open up Zoom while checking email while checking Slack while checking Facebook while checking your texts while checking whatever else you’re connected to.
The meeting ends.
You don’t really remember what it was about or what your next steps are… you shared your brother’s funny video with your Slack team and have been replying to their witty comments the whole time.
Oh well, you’ll figure it out!
It’s 12:30 and you have yet to get anything done today. You should probably start on something, but first…. more coffee! You get up, grab your phone, and make your way to the Keurig while checking your texts while checking your email while checking your… you get the point, right?
Don’t confuse your priorities
It’s great to stay connected. And it sure feels nice to be sought after by so many people. But in reality, it’s just noise. It’s noise that, again, is wonderful to have. There’s nothing wrong with a little noise.
Until you listen at full blast all day long. In that case, you blow out your eardrums.
Communication is valuable, but unless it’s directly related to your goals, it should not be given priority. For instance, if your goal is to read one book a month, you shouldn’t spend your allotted reading time texting your friends. You should be reading. If your goal is to write one blog post a day, you shouldn’t respond to every new Slack notification as soon as you receive it.
You should be writing your blog post.
When, and only when, your goal is related to communication should it receive your highest focus and attention – like if your goal is to respond to every customer service inquiry within 30 minutes. That’s the only time communication should come first.
But that’s not how devices are designed.
I’ve had enough
Instead, every announcement of barely any importance gets thrown in our faces: Here’s a memory from five years ago. Hey, your friend from middle school liked a comment of a person you don’t know. Have you seen the new trailer for that movie you’re not interested in?
And it’s noise that distracts you from what you actually need to work on – your goals.
I turned them all off. The only notifications I still receive are phone calls and that’s really only because I don’t get a lot of them. Everything else is silent. There are no notifications on my lock screen. There are no red bubbles sitting atop app icons.
The only time I know if someone’s texted me is when I physically unlock my phone and open the texting app. Same goes for email and Slack and the rest of it.
Because of that, I am in control of my focus. I choose when to respond. I decide what gets my attention. There are no blinking lights pulling at me. There’s just me, writing this to you, right now. That’s it.
Moving forward with your notifications
Not everyone can be this extreme, obviously.
It depends on your profession and responsibilities, but even if you can’t turn off every notification, there are certainly ones that you can disable. So spend the next ten minutes going through your settings – across all your devices.
Turn off the notifications that are unnecessary (90%-100% of them will be) and start spending focused time on the important things in front of you. Your day’s about to get a lot sunnier.