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Driven to Distraction?

It started as observing my sons “doom scroll” through YouTube and Discord over the holidays and with that awareness I began to observe my own behavior. The more I looked the less I liked what I saw. Using my phone was sitting at 100 pick ups a day, if not on the phone then on my iPad so the number was bigger. Each pick up a minimum of a few seconds to a few minutes… So many of them were telling me stuff I didn't need to know (I hit my sleep goal last night!) You do the math. I was spending a great deal of time on a device.

I know that focus is important and as I reflected on what was driving the pick ups I realized it was the notifications from the many apps on my device(s) — literally I would see the notification and pick up my device. WhatsApp could drop 50 notifications in a day, email another 100, the days I post to LinkedIn? add another 30 or 40. The list (and interruptions goes on).

As I talked this over with a coach they asked me, if you had a colleague who interrupted you 8, 9, 10 times an hour, what would you do? If everyone on your team interrupted you a combined 190 times a day what would you do? How much could you get done?

My brainwave was to turn off all the notifications on my devices but the green headed monster of FOMO whispered “what if you miss something?”, and I hesitated. A week went by and I was still picking up (which means getting disturbed) and losing focus.

So I took the plunge and turned them all off. Email, WhatsApp, Wix, LinkedIn, WeChat, Lexulous, FB Messenger, Settings>General (that red dot for inconsequential updates), Calendar. All of them. Even the volume on my phone ring (I kept the vibrate which is silent).

My pick ups are down 60% in six weeks (I’m still weaning myself from the habit of checking too frequently by having my phone out of sight and out of reach).

The results?

  • My focus is back, better and already bearing fruit

  • My work is of a higher quality it gets done

  • In a shorter time (for most major tasks and projects)

  • Prioritization has become easier

  • Urgent messages go to my phone, everything else I pick up at a time that suits me, in my workflow and,

  • I feel happier!

How do you maintain your focus?

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