Just a few years ago, people saw technology as exciting and filled with possibilities. But the constant notifications, alerts, and reminders are taking a serious toll on our productivity, our social lives, and our mental health.
You can see this epidemic first-hand in coffee shops worldwide. Workers have one eye on Slack, one eye on email, and no eyes left for the work they came to the coffee shop to get done in the first place. It takes 23 minutes and 15 seconds to recover from each and every interruption. So, we firmly believe the fewer notifications the better, and deep work always beats scattered toggling between tabs.
But decluttering your tech is a marathon, not a sprint. Here are 4 steps you can take to begin to take back your time, work, and sanity.
1. Turn Off Notifications
The notification explosion is one of the biggest challenges to productivity in the modern age.
You know how it goes. You’re in the middle of a productive work session and your phone lights up to tell you that someone new is following you on LinkedIn and the 200th email has arrived for the day. Your focus quickly shifts to your phone and your concentration is shot. These distractions essentially eliminate your ability to do any deep work or focussed thinking.
There’s a reason these notifications seem so inescapable. Remember these notifications are designed for selling things, not making your life easier. The single easiest digital habit to help you get more done is to simply turn notifications off.
Your family can get in touch with you when they need to, but you really don’t need to know that someone updated files in Dropbox — trust me.
2. Track Your Time
Time-prioritization techniques can be a huge boon to productivity.
1. Track your time.
2. Plan your weeks. Identify when, where and for how long you’ll do your most impactful work.
3. Report weekly on how you went, how you can improve, and what your most impactful work next week will be.
When you’re more aware of how you’re spending (or wasting) your time, you’ll gain valuable insight on how to be most productive.
3. Turn On Grayscale
Technology is engineered to be addictive and hijack our attention.
And when your phone is in color, everything looks that much more enticing. That’s why it’s so easy to spend hours scrolling Instagram. If you find you’re whiling away the hours scrolling aimlessly, try enabling grayscale on your phone. It might not cure your addiction completely, but the Internet is much less fun when it’s not rendered in vivid technicolor. It may not seem like a major change, but it can make a big difference when it comes to reclaiming your time.
4. Get Off Social Media
In recent years, Facebook has been scrutinized for a variety of privacy concerns — most famously the 2018 data scandal, when it was revealed that the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had harvested the personal data of millions of people’s Facebook profiles without their consent. Privacy concerns have catalyzed a mass exodus from Facebook.
In fact, 34% of Gen Z, or people born between the mid-1990s and early 2000s, say they’re permanently leaving social media, and 64% say they’re taking a break from it. Reasons included worries about time-wasting (41%), feeling it was too negative (35%), privacy concerns (22%), too much pressure (18%), too much commercialization (18%), and that it makes them feel bad about themselves (17%).
In other words, the social media craze may be on its way out.
Some even believe that social media is causing a decline in mental health all over the world. People are realizing you don’t have to be on Instagram or Facebook to connect with people — and in fact, these platforms may make you feel even more lonely and disconnected than you would without them.