In 2011, I tried an experiment. I attempted to keep my phone on silent.
And it has been quiet since.
Let me back up. I updated to the iPhone in 2008, and from then on, I was bombarded by all sorts of alerts. Email, texts, phones calls, missed calls, voicemails, to-dos, Twitter, Facebook (now Instagram) and any other app that was able to interrupt me with something (nearly all of them want to) wanted my attention. The iPhone literally turned every form of communication into something totally intrusive.
It was wearing me out. I would be in a meeting and my phone would vibrate from an incoming @reply on Twitter. I would be in the car and a text message would take my attention away from driving. I would be watching a movie with my wife and my phone would beep from an email in the other room. My entire life was constantly interrupted. (See! You are probably already distracted by looking below at all of those notification buttons!) My iPhone was ruling my life.
Here are 6 things I recommend to get control of your gadget:
1. Develop a new philosophy: “I check my iPhone. It doesn’t check me.”
Everything you read will be run through this principle. I have realized that as life speeds up, it becomes easier to listen to the loudest voice. If you aren’t careful, before you know it, your life is being run by your gadget instead of you. You are in charge of your gadget, not the other way around. It is a tool for you to use.
2. Turn off EVERY possible push notification that you can live without.
This not only saved immense battery life, but it will also cut out significant interruptions. When you want to know what an app has for you, then check it. For me, this is mostly Instagram, Email, Facebook and Twitter. It’s that simple. The last thing you need is for any social networking site to be constantly dinging every time someone @replies or messages you.
3. Put email in its place.
Email could dominate your day and week. There are plenty of people all needing something and companies constantly wanting to sell you something. Have a couple focused times a day with email on your computer (or phone if you have to) rather than letting them trickle in ALL day and ALL night. Email is not a phone call. Email is not a text. Email needs to be in the proper place or you will constantly deal with it.
4. Put your phone on silent – Always.
I know you think I am crazy. I thought I would miss a ton of calls when I did this. But then I discovered that because the iPhone is so bright when it rings, if I am in a place of being able to answer, I am usually able to. And when I don’t see it, it usually means I am unable to answer anyways. Here is what you do. Keep your phone out and visible when you can or need to answer. When you don’t want to answer or if you are not able, turn it upside down or keep it in your pocket. (meetings, in the car, working on a project, etc.) Another bonus is that you don’t forget to turn it on silent for meetings, projects or hanging with your family or friends. Fewer interruptions in these spots should be essential. Obviously I don’t use this in the mornings for the alarm (although that would be nice).
5. Yes. Even turn off vibrate mode.
Yes, it’s true. I can still hear the vibrator on the phone in a meeting, while I’m focused on a project, or spending time with my family. Get rid of this interruption. Side note, my leg ‘ghost vibrated’ for about 2 months after I changed this. No lie. My leg had become so accustomed to being vibrated by my iPhone that it kept doing it on its own long after. This was a huge confirmation to keep that setting off.
6. Have a gadget sabbatical.
Take some time away from your device. Turn off the phone and tablet. Take a break for a day. It will be hard at first but you will find great joys in spending time with your family or friends. You might actually find yourself thinking and reflecting more. You might be less distracted and more fully engaged with your own life. I want to make this a regular practice in my life. If you can, try it this Saturday and let me know how it goes!
There are times when our devices should be on. For me, with having a family, a job and other things in my life, there are certain times of the day or year when I need to be interrupted. So during those times, I turn my ringer on or the vibrate on if in a meeting. It’s that simple. When those times come, I know that I need to be interrupted, and that is perfectly ok. This difference here is that I am in control. I tell my phone when to be on and off.
These changes have brought freedom for me. Now I control my iPhone, and it does not control me. I don’t miss any more calls than I would normally. I am able to be more effective with each social item (Instagram, Facebook, Email, Twitter, phone calls and texts) because I can check these and focus in on them when I am ready or need to. I am also able to focus on the things in my life without being interrupted.
Do you need to turn your phone on silent? Have you found any other ways to put your gadget in it’s place?