You can do all the careful planning you want, and set goals for your time. But you can still get distracted and fritter the time you so thoughtfully planned away faster than rice through a colander. Today, I’m sharing 5 ways to automate some guardrails to minimize distractions, by tweaking your tech settings.
It’s part of a week of episodes on how to get more time savvy so that you can start feeling like you have more of it. Doesn’t that sound nice? But today’s topic isn’t just about saving you time, it’s also about helping to preserve your focus, so that you can use time more efficiently AND feel less like a frazzled person who can’t remember what you were supposed to be doing.
You’re reading the transcript of an episode of the How to Be a Better Person podcast. If you’d rather listen, click the play button below.
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Technology is one of the biggest culprits in pulling our focus away every few minutes
Luckily, it can also be used to set up some boundaries that–once you take the time to get going, you don’t really have to think about too much to keep using.
Here are a few of my recent favorites:
The Do Not Disturb function on your phone
This will block all notifications, from apps and texts. I don’t know about you but I could probably spend all day texting without trying too hard. I try to keep my texting to the early morning–around 8 when most people’s kids are in school. And then shutting it down around 9 so that I don’t keep the party going too long. I do that by turning on Do Not Disturb on my phone, and quitting my iMessages app so that I’m not seeing notifications on my computer.
What I love about it is that you can list people whose messages you don’t ever want to miss–I’ve got my husband, kids, and mom on my list–so you don’t have to worry about not hearing about something truly urgent.
You can also schedule do not disturb to turn on automatically during a set time frame
Mine is currently set from 10pm to 6:30, but it’s easy to change those times, and even to set up a different schedule for different days of the week. On your iphone you can go into Settings, and then into Focus. Or, you can swipe up on the lock screen and there is a short cut to it that looks like a crescent moon. Try it!
I turn off notifications on every single one of my group texts
I love these text strings, they kept me sane through the pandemic, and in touch with many different and specific groups of people, but man can they blow up your phone! You still get the texts, but you dont get a notification for them. So you never have to hear your phone going bananas because people got chatty. You can pick up the phone when it’s a good time for you and catch up on what you missed. To do it, you lick on the name of the group chat, up at the top of the screen, and then scroll down until you see “hide alerts.” Turn that baby on and you can thank me later.
Every time you check your email, unsubscribe from things you never read
I really find it amazing just how much stuff I don’t have any interest in gets sent to me. Honestly, if there’s a newsletter you get from a small business owner that you don’t read but feel guilty about unsubscribing from, you’re actually doing them a favor by biting the bullet and getting off their list, because you’re bringing down their open rates. I say this as a small business owner who really hopes you read–at least sometimes–the newsletters I send out! But if you don’t, and you’re only staying because you feel guilty, I release you.
There are two apps that will block you from checking certain sites
They are Self Control, and Freedom. Freedom works on just about every platform that I can tell, Self Control is only for Macs. But they both come in really handy for stopping yourself from that mindless click over to something you just don’t need to spend your time on every single time you think of it.
I’m not suggesting you should automate every possible thing
For example, I don’t save my credit card information at every website I shop at, because data breaches are real and I want to reduce that risk where I can. That means most times I’m buying something online I need to run downstairs and grab my wallet to get my credit card. It’s inefficient. I should probably get a password protection service so that I minimize this little time sucking annoyance of life. But, until I change it, it matters to me. And if something matters to you, it’s worth spending a little time on it.
Daily Tiny Assignment
Your tiny assignment is to set up one automated thing that will help preserve your focus. Will it be setting up the do not disturb function on your phone? Or setting it to automatically come on every night at a certain time and go away every morning at a time that you decide?
Will you turn off notifications on your group texts? (I REALLY recommend this one!!) Or will you start unsubscribing from one newsletter every time you check your email? Or do you want to download one of the apps that can block you from certain sites and apps–either Self Control for Mac, or Freedom for just about every platform out there that I can tell?
I know you’re going to enjoy hearing fewer dings and buzzes in your life.