The last 10 years of the cell-phone have been a whirlwind of new technology and progression. We’ve learned how to navigate ourselves through Google Maps, lose weight through calorie counting apps, and share photos instantly through mediums like Instagram and Facebook.
I enjoy my phone, don’t get me wrong. I like the connection it brings and the immediacy of information it can provide. But in a similar vein, I see it create in me an anticipation that is unnecessary and ultimately harmful.
I recently came home from 4 weeks of travel, and though I’m thankful to have had my phone on hand for certain conveniences, I also intentionally did not buy data. I did not want the ability of notifications, emails, or messages to somehow flood the still quiet of my vacation. Four beautiful weeks with this lack of availability changed my cell-phone habits. I no longer was frequently checking my phone for new notifications, because I knew however much I looked there would be nothing coming through.
And so, after coming back to Canada and back into the “real world” (the “real world” of friends, a long distance relationship, work, and commitments) I decided I didn’t want to become a slave to these notifications. I turned off any alert to my most used apps such as Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat. In addition, I extended my “Night Mode” setting to start at 9pm, which means that after that time my phone will no longer alert me of any texts or Facebook messages.
And you know what I’ve found after a few weeks – I really, really like it! The lack of buzzing or beeps has allowed me to “forget” my phone in my purse and focus on the situation at hand. The lack of red bubbles hanging at the top of my apps means I feel no urge to quickly look through them and clear any notifications. It’s surprisingly freeing, and I feel less of a desire to check in and see what’s happening online without me. And really, if there is any kind of emergency, phone calls will always do the job.
I realize this method might not work for everyone. And especially because I use my phone for work, I still allow e-mail, text, and WhatsApp messages to come through as normal. But, I was intentional about unsubscribing from e-mail accounts or websites that would send unnecessary spam and my extended Night Mode helps to remind me that my evenings are more productive and better served when I’m away from screens.
At this moment in time, I have no urge to turn my notifications back on and I feel like I’ve just scored myself an extra hour in the day.
What notifications do you allow on your phone?