The advent of smartphones have made social connectivity really simple and easy, but the truth is that reading texts or checking notifications every few minutes is distracting and disrupts your focus at work. Here are some tips to reduce noise in your environment and stay on task.
Turn Off Event Reminders On Your Phone
This is something I learned very early on during my first full time job — my phone was always buzzing with event reminders especially during the first week when I had lots of on-boarding meetings. It was going off at almost every half hour. Soon enough I realized I didn’t even need to get event reminders on my phone because I was getting event reminders through a desktop calendar app anyway. By turning off event reminders on my phone, I stopped getting two separate reminders for each event and I didn’t have to look away from my computer while I worked either.
Turn Off Sound Effects In Messaging Apps
Normally, I keep my phone on silent even when I’m not at work. I find the constant chirping of notifications is obnoxious and I much prefer to check my phone every so often for messages rather than being jolted every time by a loud ding. In cases that I don’t have my phone silent, however, I like to keep conversation sounds or sound effects in my various messaging apps off. This is because usually when I’m messaging someone, I am consistently exchanging messages for at least a few minutes, so my screen is awake and opened to exact conversation anyway. There’s no need for sound effects.
Turn Off Notifications For Social Apps
Depending on how important social media is to your work — if you are working in social media marketing, then obviously you might want to get notifications for social apps –notifications from social apps can just become another distraction for you. And it goes without saying that you would want to turn off notifications if you have thousands of followers on Twitter or Instagram.
Even if you don’t have thousands of followers, however, getting a notification that such and such persons have liked your latest Facebook status is not crucial information IMO. Having to pause your work to see an inconsequential notification is highly disruptive to your workflow and concentration. Turning off notifications for social apps clears out a ton of wasteful notifications from your phone and gives you a nice clean notification panel. The bonus is that it really helps reduce your social media use (if you feel you have a problem with staying off social media). After sharing something on Instagram, for example, you can simply close the app and forget about it until you log on next time.
Mute Group Chats
One of the most exciting and useful features of messaging apps is the ability to engage in group chats with your friends. It’s easy to coordinate hangouts or share links and it feels great to be part of a group without having to physically be together. Yet, in my experience, group chats are the biggest distraction out of everything else on my smartphone. When you have conversations going off between so many people at the same time, you are bombarded with too many notifications at once.
I finally muted some group chats and noticed how less frequently I was using my phone altogether. I could focus on a task for at least ninety minutes or so and then check my phone later for any updates. Soon enough, I muted all group chats and it really helped to reduce a lot of noise. I thought I would miss something important by having group chats on mute, but people are generally good about following up in a separate personal message.
Clear Out Whatever Is Inessential For You
These were a few suggestions that have really helped me regain my attention span. The idea is to reduce as much “noise” as you can, literally cutting out inessential notifications. What I found surprising was how after cutting myself off from all those notifications I never felt like there was any void left behind. I forgot about all my social media accounts while my phone was off to the side. This affirmed for me that there were certain things I didn’t need to know while I was working, but it can vary from person to person. See what you can live without and feel free to share your tips in a comment below. Follow me on Twitter for more #Jainsplaining.