We’ve all liked and commented on photos like this one below, yet rarely do we go out and experience this for ourselves. We experience life through other people and forget to produce these experiences for ourselves.
Lately I have come to recognize the valuable time I am wasting in the virtual world when the most important things I want to do are being pushed aside. I questioned how I am constantly being sucked into this world. What happened to sitting idle and looking out the window? It’s been replaced with sitting idle with my left thumb scrolling up non-stop with a few double taps (if you’re wondering, that’s a like on Instagram).
Think about the last time you walked into a room and thought to yourself, “wow this is crazy, everyone is on their phones”. Every one of us has seen this happen in our lives multitude of times. Many times over, we have been part of the “on their phone”.
Did you know that over 22 billion photos are posted on Instagram each year? An average person views a small subset of those photos but I gotta imagine its on the scale of 100’s of pics a day. Some insane stat can also be created for Twitter and Facebook. Fear of missing out (FOMO) on all this stuff being shared is probably a good reason alone to enable all notifications (as is usually the default and recommended by the apps).
I believe that improperly giving all the apps the ability to notify us whenever anything happens is part of the problem of constant state of distraction away from things we want to do.
Not all notifications are created equal
Your friend Jenny just shared that amazing picture of the sunset and tagged you in it, blooopppp notification, better go like it. I just mentioned you . Is this really more important than the amazing in-person conversation you were just having with your best friend? or the email you were writing to the college professor to enroll in his research project? Couldn’t seeing this sunset image have waited afterwards? Perhaps when you were headed to the bathroom and had nothing better to do?
You just ordered an Uber while walking out of the subway and were told it was 10 minutes away. So you pull out your book and decide to read. 10 minutes later your phone goes off that the Uber is here. That my friend is you putting your phone and app to work for you.
Take control away from apps and empower yourself
Notifications work best for us when they work for us. Every app does not need to notify you. In-fact make it a habit to ask yourself this question next time an app asks you to “allow notifications”. What purpose will allowing notifications serve? Is it critical to my short and long term goals? If the answer is no, then do not enable notifications.
I know it might sound a little extreme to suggest that somehow notifications have an effect on your goals, but that is exactly what i’m suggesting. Notifications work to take your focus from things which matter to you.
I’ll give you an example. I recently turned off all notifications on Instagram. Before doing this, I was constantly in and out of the application whenever I was tagged, someone liked my photo or commented due to being well informed by notifications. NO MORE. Here’s where it gets good for me. Now when I go to Instagram I always have the unknown waiting for me. It’s a nice, way to utilize Instagram for my need of “online rock kicking” or boredom rather than being tied by a virtual tether. I’ve noticed my enjoyment of Instagram has gone up because i’m in it once every few days and when I get there, I have lots of content to look at from my friends.
1 rule to follow (+2 more)
Turn on do not disturb
Every phone has the option to turn of all but the most critical notifications. Suddenly your phones goes dark. Your mind is silent. It’s really an amazing feeling. If not during work hours (i’m crazy like that), do it at night time and weekends when you’re with your family and friends.
This simple modification to your smartphone will change your life
Bonus rules to follow
Keep only the most critical notifications needed (here’s a great tutorial by 9-5 mac on notifications in IOS).If you still need your fix of virtual social world, dedicate time during the day to visit non-critical apps.
Thanks for reading, you are now in-charge of your day and your smartphone. Go out and do something amazing like this guy below.