Getting Rid of Distractions

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Our lives are constantly being interrupted.  A ping here, or a beep there, ringtones, bleeps, whooshes, letting us know that we’ve received a Facebook message, or a Hangout chat, a new email is available for us to read, or a text message has just been received.  Each of these diverts us from our current task and interrupts our concentration.  Some of these we train ourselves to ignore, but the little shot of dopamine we receive with each ta-da, bang, or whistle gives us instant satisfaction and has us come back craving it again.

How many of us constantly look at our phone, waiting for a badge to appear next to an app so we can instantly see what others are sharing and interact with it?  How many times a day are you checking your notifications, your email, your text messages, hoping for just another taste?  How much time are these tasks stealing from you every day?  A thoughtful pondering might surprise you at the answer.

The Purge

As I’ve been reading Tim Ferris’s book, “The 4 Hour Workweek”, I decided to give myself a challenge, shut off notifications.  I first went through my iPhone Settings->Notifications and turned off almost every single notification except the ones which I felt were essential, and maybe even those I may later to choose to turn off.

The only apps that survived were ones that I set myself, Calendar, Reminders, America Airlines, AirBNB.  These ones remind me of tasks that I have set, and keep me on track.  Off went Facebook, Hangouts, App Store, News, and all other apps.  It’s surprising the number of apps that want to inform you of the slightest change that then leads to distraction.  On a plus side I finally got rid of that annoying random beep or blip that would come up but I never knew what it meant.  I still don’t know what it means, but at least it’s gone.

Previously I had pinned two tabs on my Chrome browser, my personal email, and my professional email.  This gave me constant access to emails coming and going, and kept open Google Hangouts for chatting.  These tabs now only appear on my browser at 12pm and 4pm when I check my email.

I’ve also have a time set aside for viewing Facebook, seeing what friends have been up to, and reading headlines.  I have found that since doing so I have spent much less time mindlessly checking Facebook.  Without the constant badges, sounds, alerts, and notifications coming in on my phone begging for attention that I am no longer picking up my phone so often to see the latest baby pictures, and dancing dogs.

The Challenge

I challenge you, my readers, to purge these distractions from your life for a week.  Turn off all notifications except ones that are absolutely essential.  Try it out, see how it goes, I'll be reporting back next week with my results.  Feel free to leave comments with any other distractions that you have decided to purge.

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