I spend the majority of my hours at work looking at thousands of images on a screen, that’s my job, I’m not slacking off, well, most of the time at least I am concentrating. I had that little window that pops up every time I got a new email. You know the one, with an enticing preview of the message, tempting you away from what you are meant to be doing to read Gwyneth’s latest Goop Newsletter?
I get a lot of emails and every time that box popped up my attention was broken. 9 times out of 10 it wasn’t urgent, 5 times out of 10 it was something I could delete without even reading, and yet these pop-ups were breaking down my concentration and actually costing me time.
The same applies to daily life; text notifications, pop-ups from Instagram telling you about a live video starting, ebay updating you on your latest bidding war, your mum on WhatsApp asking you if you’ve seen the latest Trump meme. We are finding it increasingly harder to switch off, or to stay focussed when we are switched on.
I decided one day to try turning off my email notifications. I know, wild right? Admittedly it took a while for me to stop compulsively checking my email every five minutes and for the small FOMO knot in my stomach to untangle, but frankly, I am not a heart surgeon on call, no lives are at risk if I don’t see an email for an hour….who am I kidding, half an hour…Ok 15 minutes – I’m a work in progress!
What I did find was that my sustained concentration enabled me to get into my flow more often and therefore actually increased my productivity at work. I left at the end of the day feeling like I had completed my to-do list for the day with greater ease and felt less mentally exhausted.
I suggested a colleague give it a try too and she reported the same findings, she even expressed relief at having a break from all the ‘noise’ and taking control of how and when she engaged with her emails, rather than being at the sender’s beck-and-call.
Give it a try, even just for a few hours a day and let us know in the comments how you get on?
Next up is my phone. I have managed to put it on silent but the notifications are still on, so a little green light flashes to tempt me in…baby steps though, baby steps.
Image: Carl Heyerdahl/unsplash.com