How many times an hour do we stop what we’re doing to check messages and/or send a reply? Anyone look to see if something’s there even without a notification? One study found that mobile users check their phones 110 times a day. Is there really that much going on?
Because of our constantly connected lives, we’ve all caught a case of FOMO; the Fear Of Missing Out. We’re not actually checking because we think something’s waiting, we just want to make sure we don’t MISS anything. Whether an amazing gift or diabolical curse, everyone’s doing it, so who cares?
Suw Charmon-Anderson’s essay in The Guardian asserts, “In a study last year, Dr. Thomas Jackson of Loughborough University found that it takes an average of 64 seconds to recover your train of thought after interruption by email”. So, checking email every 5 minutes means spending 8.5 hours a week just GETTING BACK to whatever we were doing (forget about actually doing it). If you’re someone who’d rather spend those hours getting things done and living your life, consider these e-boundary ideas:
AIRPLANE MODE, NOT JUST FOR AIRPLANES: Working out, meals, time with friends/family or for an hour in the morning are perfect opportunities to turn off all the notifications. Airplane mode provides a quick flight to a quieter life. Everything will be there when we return.
SET IT ON AUTO-RESPONDER: Not just for vacation anymore, auto-responses are a great way to go offline anytime. Set a message that includes when you’ll be back and how to be reached if absolutely necessary. Click it on and take a time out.
DON’T YOU HAVE ANY PRIORITIES?: Set three priorities for the day. When working on these tasks, turn off all notifications. Keep the world away until a task is completed, then open the door to distraction.
AVOID UNRAVELING: Like pulling on a loose string, responding to or sending a message can cause a thread to grow unexpectedly. Before giving that first tug (sending or responding in this case), be sure that you’re willing and able to participate without sacrificing your focus. Try setting specific times to do email and don’t get steamrolled by runaway conversations.
The place to start is by getting clear about the cost of distraction on our work and life. Once we understand how being in reactive mode increases our stress level, hampers our creativity and leads to accidents, we begin to feel the importance of making changes. From there it’s just a matter of finding what works for our situation. We have a ton of ideas…