During the first week of February, I booked a trip to Getaway House as a birthday gift to myself. If you’ve never heard of Getaway House, it’s a group of tiny cabins nestled in the mountains of several states across the U.S. The goal is to offer people a retreat from the city, to disconnect from society, unplug from our devices and connect with nature. I opted to book my retreat in the Western Catskills, NY.
One of the things I did while unplugged was flip through the book, Getting Away: 75 Everyday Practices for Finding Balance in Our Always-On World written by Jon Staff, one of the founders of Getaway House.
One of the practices listed in this book that I most found interesting was to turn off your push notifications.
As someone who struggles to find balance in our “always on” world – between freelancing, working from home, and especially working in social media and digital marketing, I regularly feel fatigued by the constant connection.
Without the boundary setting of creating office hours for yourself, it can sometimes be expected that you answer phone calls, emails, and text messages at all hours of the day. Even without the expectation from clients, if you’re anything like me – it can be difficult to ignore an email notification, even if it is a Saturday morning – or an Instagram notification, even if you’re in the middle of a work task.
In fact, a study published in the book stated that simply receiving a push notification can be just as distracting or energetically taxing as answering a phone call, even if we don’t act on the notification.
I’m constantly looking for ways to improve my mental health, productivity and overall energy levels, so I figured I would try turning off my push notifications as soon as I returned from my trip. Admittedly, the first 24 hours were a little weird as I was afraid of missing something. That’s how they get ya!
Now, it’s been almost 3 weeks since implementing this practice and I can honestly say that this small change has been a total game changer. After the FOMO faded, I entered a new state of bliss. When I log off my computer for the day, I am no longer plagued by 10pm email notifications from clients on the Westcoast. In the mornings, I don’t feel enticed to immediately check my emails, taunted by the little email icon in the top of my phone window.
I check my email when I’m in the right mental headspace to start my workday. I tune into social media when I want to, not when I’m prompted to. I feel more productive during my work days with fewer distractions. I’ve decreased my screen time. And overall, I end my days with a lot more mental energy than I used to.
If you’re looking for a simple trick that will help increase your productivity, improve your mental health and restore a little more work-life balance in this “always on” world, I highly recommend turning off your push notifications. You won’t regret it.