I recently read the article #unplug in Fast Company. I highly recommend it to anybody that is deeply connected to the Internet, social media, and email. The article is about Baratunde Thurston (NY Times Best Selling Author), and his sabbatical from technology and benefits and results that followed.
Prior to reading the article I had already seen technology, social media, and push notifications as huge distractions. For the longest time now I have had push email notifications turned off on my phone, I even went as far as taking off the email badge icon. For one, I would know when I had new messages if I was just checking the time, and two, that inbox would never read zero and would just continue to climb because of unopened emails.
I even have the pop up notifications for email turned off on my computer so I don’t get sucked into an email while I’m working on reviewing the books or researching new suppliers. I don’t know where the need or desire for push notifications came from. To me they are nothing more than a big distraction from whatever you are currently working in.
As a business owner I’m not only seeking to build the brand of my business but my personal brand as well. Because of this I’m frequently engaged in Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Even with those applications I have the banner notifications turned off on my phone, yet it’s always tempting to pull down the notification center to see if I have any new messages, follows, or likes.
So, this morning I took things a step further and removed all social media notifications from the phone. Now, the only way to know if I have new interactions is to open the app and check. The only thing I will see in my notification center now is my calendar, which is something I actually need to be reminded of, with so many distractions and all.
I think it’s smart to #unplug for short periods of time to rejuvenate and regain focus on real life. I also think it’s important for everybody to be a little less plugged into the matrix. In the article, Thurston mentions a group of people walking down the street glued to their phones; they see Thurston and ask if there was a diner near by. Had they not been glued to their phones they would have seen the glowing neon sign right across the street.
I feel that I have managed to be far less connected than I once was. When I had a traditional 9-5 job I was constantly glued to twitter. Like Thurston I probably tweeted 32 times a day. But during that time I was rarely uber-productive. I wasn’t doing work that truly mattered. Twitter and other social media networks were just a distraction from the real work.
Since I’ve become less connected I get way more stuff done! Social media definitely has value, but I believe that value is lost when it begins to distract you from real life. So, balance is key. Limit social media and you will be far more productive, and you will be a better friend, better husband or wife, and you will begin to appreciate your dinner without having to take a photo of it.