How many times a day do you find yourself distracted by your phone?
How long do those digital distractions last?
How long does it take you to get back on task?
Do you pick your phone up every time it makes a sound?
How much time are you spending each day looking at that little screen?
Do you ever get to the end of your day and realize you didn’t accomplish what you wanted to?
I asked myself these questions this summer after a few frustrating days of not accomplishing what I needed to. I plan my days using a calendar blocking method I learned from Amy Landino (more details on that in another blog post!). Basically, I look at my day in 1 hour chunks and then decide how to spend each hour. I used to write to-do lists that would leave me feeling overwhelmed with everything I had to do. Now, I may write a task list, but then everything gets assigned a time slot on my calendar. As I sit down to write this blog post, I have an entire hour blocked to write. I’ll have an additional hour blocked off on another day to edit and post my blog. I find that having the time blocked off forces me to sit down and focus on what I need to accomplish, rather than feeling overwhelmed looking at a never ending to-do list.
So what happens when I sit down with my one hour to write my blog post? Ding. Beep-beep. Buzzzz. Ringggg. Distraction. Social media, email, phone calls, texts. It seems every time I glance at my phone, there is a new little icon on the top letting me know that someone, somewhere, wants my attention. And who can resist that? Someone sent me a text, a Snapchat, tagged me in an Instagram post, messaged me on Facebook, sent me an email, or called. These people/apps on my phone need my attention! It’s usually a mix of business and personal distractions, which was part of my excuse of giving the notifications immediate attention. Anyone with a Facebook business page knows about the “response time” feature, which caused me to constantly be checking FB for messages. On your business page, FB wants you to respond to 90% of messages within 15 minutes to be considered “very responsive.” 15 minutes?!? So I would open up any notification as soon as it popped up on my phone. The result? I may have blocked off one hour to accomplish something, but I would find myself being distracted by notifications. I’d get a FB business message so I’d hop on FB to write a reply...and then find myself mindlessly scrolling for 20 minutes after I sent the message. FB is designed to keep your brain engaged in a way that encourages the mindless scrolling. I know I’m not the only one! So one hour of work, turned into maybe 30 minutes of productivity and things wouldn’t get done. I got frustrated with myself. Why couldn’t I be more productive? Why was I letting all of these outside distractions stop me from meeting my goals?
There it was, the golden question. “Why was I letting all of these outside distractions stop me from meeting my goals?” From that day forward, I decided I was done being distracted. My phone didn’t rule my life, I did. I took back control with these 3 steps.
Step 1: Get over FOMO
Fear of Missing Out. It’s why those notifications are on in the first place right? So you don’t miss anything, not a social media post, an email, or a text message. As soon as someone is ready to communicate with you via text, email or social, you can stop what you’re doing and answer. You don’t want to miss out on any important news, a funny joke or an invite, right? What about the life that is happening before your eyes right now? Do you ever have FOMO about missing out on that? I see people walking around daily with their face buried in their phone. Do these people ever enjoy a sunrise or notice the beauty of the leaves falling to the ground this fall? Why do we have such FOMO in the online world but not for the REAL world that we walk through every day? I dare you to go take a walk in nature without your phone. Notice how many times you might think about your phone while on a 30 minute walk. When you come back to your phone, what did you miss? Probably nothing important or at least nothing that couldn’t wait while you walked for 30 minutes. So why do we have this fear that we are missing out if we aren’t online? The reality is, we are missing out on so much more, because we are always online.
Step 2: Become BFFs with DND
Not dungeons and dragons. Do-Not-Disturb. My phone is on DND 75% of the time. Between teaching yoga classes, giving myself productive hours to get stuff done, and the number of solicitation calls I receive, I find the best volume for my phone is silent. Yes, sometimes I miss calls that I would have liked to answer, but I also am not distracted answering 2-3 solicitation calls a day or feeling the need to check my phone everytime I hear it beep. I usually don’t go more than 2 hours without checking for missed calls/texts and the amount of peace and productivity I can find in those few hours makes it worth the cost of any missed call.
Step 3: Turn off Notifications
Even with my phone on DND, I would still find myself glancing at my phone (to check the time, I told myself!) and then would notice new notifications which would lead to distraction. For me, the best thing to do was turn off all notifications from social media apps and email. One notification could lead to an hour of distraction, checking emails and scrolling social media. Now, instead of social media notifications dictating when I spend my time online, I decide. I now have 3 separate designated hours where I check my business/personal social media and my business/personal email. It may change depending on what I have going on, but I typically give myself an hour in the morning, afternoon, and evening where I get my inbox to zero and check social media. 3 hours a day might seem like a lot, and sometimes I don’t need an entire hour, but just having that time blocked off prevents me from checking my email every 30 minutes and hopping on social media every time I get a notification.
Turning off notifications has made my days run so much smoother and made me so much more productive. Instead of constantly being distracted when the online world wants my attention, I decide when I want to give my attention to the online world.
I may never have an “excellent response” time according to my FB business page, but I don’t have FOMO about that anymore :)