My phone kept running out of juice. I couldn’t figure it out. It had charged all night! Someone suggested that I turn off some of my notifications. I went into my settings and decided that I would turn off all of them except my phone ringer. Even though I did this to save battery life on my phone, I ultimately discovered how much “battery juice” it saved in my own life.
Without realizing it I had become as conditioned as one of Pavlov’s dogs, otherwise known as Classical Conditioning. Whenever I heard a sound, I picked up my phone. Because I had notifications turned on for everything, I was picking my phone up all the time except when I turned it off during coaching meetings. I had become blissfully unaware of my own conditioning to these “sounds”. As I was waking up to how conditioned I’d become, I decided to turn off the notifications on my computer as well. I added reminders on my “to-do” list to check email in the morning, afternoon and at the end of the workday. I limited my use of Social Media to the end of the day. I wanted to see how much time I was freeing up by not jumping to the sound of the bell.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the level of freedom I gained by turning off my notifications. In hindsight, I realized how the distraction of the sound diverted my attention from what I was doing to whatever the notification was. It’s like your boss telling you to finish the month end report by the end of the day, but then bothers you every 10 minutes to ask for something that has nothing to do with the report. I don’t know about you, but after about 2 hours of that I would lose my cool! And yet, I tolerated the intrusion from my phones and computers. I followed the shiny object. When I finally turned the notifications off I immediately experienced freedom. Without those distractions, my work became focused and intentional.
As a side benefit, I was able to trim two hours off my workday: down to 6 hours from 8 hours. Wow! A 2-hour gift of time! Instead of filling those two hours up with more work, I decided to use it for my own interests that I never seemed to have time for. The greatest benefit, however, was the mental space I had freed up. I could not believe how much of my thought life was wrapped up in reactive conditioning that had little, if nothing, to do with what I was involved with in that moment. As I was freeing my reactiveness, I began noticing a different level of creativity in my work. Freedom of time, freedom of space, freedom of attachment to what was happening in the outer world. I gained all of this and more when I turned off my notifications.
Now, on the flipside, if I ever want to condition myself to start a healthy routine, I may set an alarm sound on my phone. Just for a time, until I fall into the space of repeating the routine on an unconscious competence level. There is a balance in everything! Take your own inventory of how much time you spend being distracted by the numerous notifications on your phone or computer, whether by sound or number popping up. Then take ownership of your devices and free yourself!