Imagine hiring an assistant whose job consisted of walking around connected to you 24 hours a day and would pinch you whenever he or she felt like it. This is the equivalent of what our phones are set to do by default. Notifications for text messages, emails, and every app you have downloaded come standard. I didn’t include calls in this list because if someone is old school enough to actually use your phone number to call you, it’s probably important.
Your wealth is impacted by every area of your life and time is still our most valuable asset. When we allow our phones to hijack our time based on the default settings, we are giving up control of our most valuable asset. Time. Connections we are building with people right in front of us, projects we are working on at our jobs or schools, appreciating a walk outdoors, all take a back seat to the quick dopamine hit of a new announcement.
It’s possible you have already taken control of your phone and, if so, you are one step ahead. For the rest of us, we need to make a quick change to the settings in each application we have on our phones. If you receive notifications from an app, open up the settings and turn them off. Clearly if you have something that is important for work or your kids, that needs to stay turned on. Otherwise, shut them down. It will feel a little weird for a few hours because your phone will remain relatively quiet and you won’t have growing numbers of red dots on your screen. After a while it feels liberating. Once I turned off the Facebook notifications I realized how often I was opening the app just to see what the red dot would reveal. Not only have I not missed it, I have been able to take back control of a little bit of time. Win!
The growing red dots on the phone are similar to the kid in the commercial who has “Skittlespox”. ‘Mmm…are they contagious?’ In the commercial, no. In real life, the red dots spread like wildfire because we’re the combination the five people closest to us.
Once you have pared back the number of notifications on your phone, work with your parents and children to get them on board. If you have parents that are new to the smartphone, they will appreciate it. Just like oxygen in an airplane, be sure to fix your phone first before helping your loved ones. And don’t forget to do this before Thanksgiving!