A couple years ago I started to recognize that the so-called experts were right and it kinda pissed me off because to implement their advice around this one thing didn't feel good, but at the same time, I was tired of not following through on things I truly wanted to accomplish.
I made light of my shiny object syndrome, SOS for short, and ain't that fitting? SOS in Morse Code as you may know is Save Our Ship. Each time I let distractions and shiny objects hijack my attention and take me away from the thing I professed was super important to me, it was like my boat had a hole in it and was starting to sink.
It was time to get serious about this SOS problem of mine. Like all unwanted behaviors, there's a tipping point when staying in the comfort zone becomes more uncomfortable than taking the risk to do things differently. I became ready to start patching up my hole-riddled boat of distraction and shiny objects.
The BIGGEST, singular thing I did after I decided (as an aside, did you know the latin root meaning of decide is to "cut off" - so when you decide to do something, you cut off all options that would take you backwards) to embrace structure, routine and discipline as my antidote to my shiny object affliction was to turn off the notifications on my phone and computer and I rarely ever have my ringer turned on my phone (not even vibrate mode).
Those little red pimples on the dozens of apps we have - yup, turned off!
The email pop-up that slides across the screen when a new one comes in, yup, off!
The most alluring apps like social media or Netflix or news sources got moved off the home screen of my device and some, like Twitter, got removed entirely.
And it turns out, by doing this one thing, studies show that a person gains 1 month of time back in their life because they're not task-switching constantly throughout the day. ONE MONTH OF TIME!
We seriously underestimate the mental energy drain we experience when we ping from one notification to the next and it has wildly harmful downstream consequences to our physical health and health of our relationships.
That pesky thing called productivity suffers badly too, but changing your habits around notifications and multitasking isn't as lasting if your motivation is to be more productive. When it's centered around boosting your health and happiness, that's when there's greater stickum to persevere through the discomfort of change.
It's hard at first, but worth the effort. Try it and see for yourself.
Time is often the biggest reason people say they can't get to the lifestyle changes they want to work on. I'll hear "I just don't have time to add one more thing to my plate."
Therein lies the problem. Most people see changing habits or changing the ways they engage with daily life as yet another task on their to-do list instead of elevating it in priority and then deciding to take tiny, albeit sometimes not easy, steps of action like turning off the notifications on their phone and computer.
The average person gets 60+ notifications per day and check our phone (pick it up) over 80 times a day. Honestly, I think those estimates are low. But that's beside the point. The reality is that the levels of stress, depression and anxious worrying is reaching new levels and a great deal of it is because our mind/body is over-stimulated every.single.day.of.our.lives!
We must take back control of our technology if we truly want to regain peace of mind.
There are dozens of strategies to implement. For instance, have you heard of turning your home screen gray? The colorful design and sleekness of our digital devices isn't by accident - they're built on addiction studies - what will hook us. So turning the screen gray as suggested by Nick Bilton, former Google designer.
In this article, it's described this way: "The idea is to strip away color to make your phone less enticing. Without the flashy colors of the apps vying for your attention, your phone becomes a utilitarian tool. You're less likely to get sucked into the mindless scroll simply because it's a less pleasant experience."
The myriad of ways you can take back control of your time, your attention and where you choose to put your focus in your day are available and easy to follow...if you're willing to experiment and genuinely try them out. You'll have to ride the wave of discomfort and there are practices and strategies for that too.
If you're serious about feeling at-ease, have peace of mind, improve your mental health and reclaiming your time, I urge you to give this one strategy a try. Turn off the notifications on your phone and computer. You'll be amazed before not too long and wonder why you didn't do it sooner.
If you found this helpful and want more tips like this that will improve not just your health but your overall life, I'd encourage you to join Rusti's new online community Healthy & Happy (it's not on Facebook). You can turn the notifications off on the community app too! Healthy & Happy is a free community space, fun, interactive, and filled with health and life tips, tools and methods that you can put into action immediately. It's where Rusti is putting her best content and coaching solutions. Best of all, when you're a part of the community, you're surrounded by others who want to figure out how to live by design - discovering their unique healthy and happy sweet spot! What works for one person may not work for another, so find what works for you and do more of that.
Come join Healthy & Happy - click here and get the support and resources you need to live a healthier and happier life.
What tips would you recommend to reclaim time? Leave a comment here on the blog so we can learn from you.