By: Amie and Corinne
“Ding!” “Bing!” “Hello!” Have you ever felt ruled by your phone? Unlock your phone to make a quick call only to be bombarded with 7 notifications at the top of your screen? Try typing a quick response only to be blinded by 10 email notifications simultaneously. Nothing like telling your client “I’ll eat you“ when you mean “I’ll meet you”. Smartphones are a curse and a blessing – they provide us insurmountable value, while also consuming more of us than is always necessary.
I find myself frustrated with how often I’m mindlessly scrolling through my social media pages. Given a couple of spare minutes, I open my phone and immediately get notified. I feel the NEED to check those apps. I feel like I’m missing out. I feel pressure to respond.
This is not a unique occurrence – we are all feeling an urgency to reply, stay informed, and at times we are addicted to checking those status updates. It’s not just the exhaustion from being a new mom, I want to become less dependent on my phone so I can make more time for other things I want to do in life. I want to be more present.
It’s tough to disconnect from what others are doing or saying on social media, but we can learn to better manage those apps. Here are a few helpful tips that will make it easier:
- I blocked notifications from certain apps.
- I took the apps I spend too much time on, off of my homescreen. Now, when I consciously decide I want or need to check something, I have to go find it in my apps page. It’s that extra step that helps me control where I spend my phone time.
Looking to control your notifications on your phone? Here’s how:
On an Andoid and iPhone:
Step 1: Settings
Step 2: Notifications
Step 3: Select App
Step 4: Select ‘Block All’ ‘Show Silently’ or ‘Override Do Not Disturb’
*If you do not want to receive notifications at all, select ‘Block All’.*
SMS (TEXT MESSAGING)
Full disclosure: I love text messaging. It has been a revolution in communication and most of us would rather give up pizza than our iPhones. But we’ve read all the research and we know technology isn’t necessarily making us happier. True bliss in life isn’t found looking at a screen – it’s found when we personally involve ourselves in the world around us.
When my work switch is flipped on, I respond to people in a very timely fashion. Due to the nature of my work, I’m always on the computer. I can get email, game updates, texts from my husband, and Google Voice messages on any of the multiple devices around me. I am accessible when at home throughout the day; responding is practically effortless. SMS has made us so capable to communicate responses that we are losing awareness of how we should communicate certain messages – especially those we are uncomfortable relaying face to face. Communication errors often occur because a quick response is not always the best response. I feel like we need to be more mindful and be more accepting of the wait. We need to give others the time to pause, think, and respond appropriately.
Another behavior I observe is in how people use texting to get what they want immediately without consideration for the person on the other end. Take for example how some kids use texting as a means to apply pressure on their busy parents. Technology creates a virtual connection that used appropriately, is a lifesaver to the busy parent. If your child wants to ride home from school with their friend rather than taking the bus, wouldn’t you appreciate a text notifying you they are doing so? However, if you are out with a friend and your child sends you multiple message about a pair of shoes they want you to buy, do you really need to respond immediately? Even the most attentive parent feel a little guilty when they leave behind those they are responsible for. So the question is not if you should respond, but when? Knowing everything we love and hate about smartphones, are we conditioning ourselves to need constant connection? Or are we just over-notified?
You open one of your inboxes, and if you’re like most American’s you have at least two, to see dozens of emails. Email stacked upon email. Daunting, overwhelming… you’re not alone. It becomes hard to find the important emails, you forget what you’ve responded to, you miss a deadline. Again, this is another situation where your technology is controlling you! It doesn’t have to be that way, you can organize your inbox and efficiently use your email time.
Tip 1: Unspam yourself! Unsubscribe from all spam. That’s right, go to the bottom of each email and hit ‘Unsubscribe’. This takes a bit of time upfront, but you will be ridding your inbox of 80% clutter!
Tip 2: Turn off social media email notifications. You don’t need to be notified of social media updates on your phone and your email (or either). Go to that specific platform and turn off notifications.
Tip 3: Pick a couple of news sources to send you ‘Once Daily’ news updates. You don’t need every news site to send you updates, pick a couple. I suggest subscribing to one national, one international, and one local news source to keep you apprised.
Tip 4: Create folders or labels for your emails. After you’ve read an email and completed whatever follow-up is necessary, file it away in a corresponding folder or apply a label. I use labels in my Gmail according to task or subject matter. For example, I use the labels “Read Later” or “Need Follow-up” if I can’t do either task immediately. If possible, do not save all your emails in your inbox. Use your inbox like you would your mailbox out front of your home. You don’t leave all of your mail sitting there do you? Nor should you in your inbox.