I have been spotted running around the country with 2 cell phones and/or 2 laptops over the past 7 years and still can be. It’s a necessary evil between work and play and keeping things separate and I have grown accustomed to it. It also makes for many interesting conversations when people ask me to tell them about the drugs I deal on my “drug money phone”…
Needless to say, I understand the unique sounds that both Androids and Apples make for each individual app and how to operate each device in the dark with my eyes closed. However, I have also felt the intense urge to throw either and both of my phones out of the window of a moving vehicle on multiple occasions.
It can easily begin to feel like I am babysitting a teething toddler all day long. *DING!* Facebook! *CHIRP* Someone mentioned me on Twitter. *SWOOP* New e-mail! *Ping* New instant message.
The ringing. The dinging. The vibrating. The dying of batteries. The notifications that I am running out of storage. The updating. The data usage nastygram. The Wi-Fi connecting and dropping.
Oh My God. Please. Make. It. Stop.
But it doesn’t.
Not until you put your foot/phone down.
Here are my 5 tips for avoiding those persistent and overwhelming thoughts when it comes to technology in particular:
1. Pause for the Cause. Please Do Not feel the need to answer EVERY single notification the MILI-SECOND it alerts you on your phone. I understand how difficult this can be at first, but if you remove whatever urgency you have towards responding and slow down, you will feel better. It just takes practice and a little time. Most of the time it isn’t an emergency and you don’t want to continue to feed this trigger you have to reach every single time. It really can wait. Why stress when you can choose to keep calm?
2. Prioritize apps and remove notification alerts from every single app. You do not need to be alerted every time you get an e-mail from Old Navy or when you get a new follower on Twitter or when someone uploads a Yoga Video to YouTube. The news and weather apps will alert you all day long if you let them. Thanks, but no thanks. If you really need news & weather notifications, make them unique- one vibrate buzz, no sound. When the notification is unique, you don’t have to see or look at your phone to see who that was until you’re good and ready. I hate thinking that I got a text from someone I’m dating, only to look at my phone and realize it’s my Weather app telling me what the temperature is outside… You can also prioritize important e-mails from certain people to alert your phone immediately and refresh your inbox when you’re ready. Change your mother/boss/lover’s ringtone or anyone who calls or messages a LOT to something unique. Get creative. You’ll get used to it in no time and it will make your life easier, I promise.
* Life hack: It’s also a great battery saver to disable push notifications for e-mails and certain apps. Try it out and see how you feel (you might even become more productive!)
3. Turn off ALL notifications during busy or crucial times of the day. Plan it ahead of time and just hit the mute button and silence it. Get rid of the distractions and you will get rid of the nonsense and drama that leads to the inevitable overwhelm. Set up a meeting in your Outlook or Google calendar and mark as Do Not Disturb. Force time on busy days to get really important things done when you’re being pulled in a million different directions. Putting your phone on silent more often is a great way to help you from putting your phone into the garbage disposal on busy days.
* Productivity hack: Try Pomodoro as a tool for time management. Set an alarm (there are apps and websites for this too) and time yourself for 45 minutes to work with no distractions. After the 45 minutes is up, spend 15 minutes going ham on your phone. Then back to work for 45 minutes, etc. It’s a great method for a lot of folks who are constantly distracted by their phones or apps.
4. Be in CHARGE! I often get overwhelmed from my phones or laptops dying. Being in an airport or on the airplane itself or event at a Happy Hour spot without an outlet to me is like being in a bathroom with no toilet paper or paper towels. Useless and Disappointing. If you feel this way, you understand the constant stress of keeping a good battery life going. My advice: plan ahead, charge ahead, and bring backup. I have a number of car chargers and cords and plug ins. Inevitably, something will quit working and it makes way more sense to be over-prepared than SOL. This is where Amazon.com is your friend.
* Travel hack: In my laptop bag, I regularly have a spare car charger and charging cords for Uber and rental car rides in the event that I forget or leave my normal charger somewhere I shouldn’t have.
5. Roll with the good times as well as the bad ones. Notifications might get missed. You might forget to call or message someone back. That important e-mail might end up in your Spam Folder. Remember that it will be okay. Do not let the stress of feeling the need to be perfect and “on top of everything all of the time” get to you or bog you down to the point where your phone(s) make you super anxious or stressed out. If someone or something is stressing you out on your phone or laptop, you need to find out why and devote time, energy and resources to lower this stress level down to the best of your ability.
* Life hack: use your words and create clear boundaries and expectations of others and for yourself. Let it be known when you respond and how long it typically takes and your bandwidth, regularly. This is self-care and you should never feel guilty for taking care of you.
Technology overwhelm has has me wrapped around its’ little finger many times. I have been there and I know exactly how you might feel. Remember you are not alone and remember that you are in control.
Remind yourself that just because you don’t have 18 missed e-mails (most likely from Macy’s, Robeks Smoothies and Ellen Degeneres), 3 missed phone calls (probably from your Mom or sister), 15 new Twitter followers (8 bots), or 445 likes on your latest brunch photo does not mean that you are not important, popular, loved or wanted. No notifications and no insane overwhelm does not mean that you aren’t showing up in the world and doing your thing. It might mean that you answer when people call you and that you don’t let miscellaneous e-mails and spam bot followers, likes and retweets rule your life.
Forward this to someone who lets their phone sometimes run their world.
Be low key popular. Calm and collected. It’s sexier, and way better for your skin.