Keeping your digital device completely switched off for long periods of time might minimise distractions, but for most people it isn’t realistic. Your work, clients and friends have a high expectation you are always connected & easily reachable. Plus, technology shouldn’t be the enemy! There are lots of benefits living in a always connected digital culture, but you need to be the one in control. Having constant distractions throughout the day can diminish focus and reduce productivity, it can even bring on anxiety. Rather than imposing a digital detox or switching off completely, we need to find ways of being able to work effectively alongside the distractions.
Here are some of our tips for managing digital distractions and staying productive throughout the day:
Record how often you check your phone every day
Awareness is the first step towards cure. Maybe you don’t realise how often you actually check your phone? That’s usually because it’s not something we think about. Count how many times you do it per day and ask yourself whether you need to be checking it this much.
Check your email & social accounts at set times
Having set times during the day where you check your inbox and social accounts rather than having them always open at the ready will stop distractions constantly streaming in. Whether it’s every hour, or every few hours – planning when you will be checking puts you in control and allows you to more effectively plan your own day.
Setup different notification profiles and use them
Most devices have set profiles which can limit the amount of notifications or not disturb you at all. If you are checking at set intervals, you should minimise distractions during the in-between times so you can focus on getting things done. Consider having short blackout periods during the day while you’re working so you can’t be disturbed.
Setup priority notifications
Most devices and some email clients allow you to setup a priority notification mode, so you only receive notifications from people and apps which you classify as ‘high priority’.
Use an auto responder
If you’re in a fast paced environment where everyone is constantly checking their inbox and you’re worried not responding within seconds may reflect badly on you, why not set an auto-responder briefly explaining when you’re likely to be checking emails during the day so nobody gets offended? Once people see how much more productive you have become, they may follow suit.
Don’t respond to everything on the spot
Not every email needs an instant response on the spot, in fact most emails could probably easily go a day without responding. Ask yourself whether it requires an urgent response or if it can wait until tomorrow. Writing a reply, even if it’s a quick one, takes your mind elsewhere and can make it difficult to refocus on the task you were working on. The new Google Inbox email client allows you to snooze notifications, creating a reminder to respond to a message at another time or when you reach a particular location.
Minimise spam & promo emails
Make sure spam doesn’t see the light of day by using an effective spam filter. Brands you’re subscribed to for newsletters/promotional materials can be instantly diverted to a seperate folder until you have the time to go through them.
Delete unnecessary apps from your device regularly and review your notification settings. Turn off notifications for every app you don’t need to receive notifications from.
Get a SmartWatch
Working in a fast paced environment where you are likely to get many urgent emails during the day? Consider investing in a smartwatch. You can lift your wrist and decide whether that email is worth reading without having to open your computer/phone to check. There is always temptation whenever you pick up your phone to check other things like social media.
So, start by taking the challenge of recording how many times you check your email and phone per day. If our suggestions work well for you or you have some others you’d like to share, hit us up on Facebook or Twitter.