I probably get it zumis about 12 to 20 times a day during the work week – a miserable number compared to the average American smartphone user. 322 weeks – but it’s the weekend buzzing that seems to affect me much less than the much-anticipated midweek ones buzzing sessions I was waiting for.
As a dog from one of those weird black-and-white 1950s behavioral psychic experiments, I was more excited by the expectation of the buzz than the actual one. buzzing mem. It became clear, however, that I needed to make a fundamental change – that the buzzing (or beep) dominated my workday more than I did.
During the work week, I confess that I often rushed to catch a buzzing. It quickened me. Early in my trip, especially in the morning, I welcomed a buzzing. After my morning cup of joe, accompanying buzzing most likely would be in order. Lunch buzzing would be well received if it were a particularly busy start to the day, as well as an afternoon buzzing or two just to make sure the day is nicely rounded.
Through time and experience I have discovered, only recently, the power of silence. Specifically, the power to mute my phone and keep that buzzing for the weekend. The weekends are all about the vibe anyway, so I figured I’d give it a try and keep quiet during the workday.
Turning the phone to silence is kind of like living in the “pocket” that jazz musicians are talking about, that place of emptiness where everything really exists because without it, the other hits, well, don’t hit so hard. I have found that silencing my phone is like intentionally setting aside one day a week to disconnect the family. television and sit around playing board games for the evening instead. You start to see things a little differently. You may learn that you are ultimately more in control of the conversations you have about your relationship at work, the structure of your day, and even to whom you make yourself available than you previously thought.
Until I get paid to casually scroll through apps and text friends during the workday, the urge to check my phone is best mitigated by the simple choice of silence.
In the early stages of recovery of the day, setting my phone to vibrate was not enough to prevent me from reaching the phone whenever my ear caught the buzzing coming out of the corner of my desk. Unlock phone, answer text, engage in a few buzzes back and forth with a friend, unconsciously navigate to an app and finally find myself with a crack in my neck and 30 minutes that I will never come back. The 33 apps I have installed on my phone are pretty skinny compared to the average smart user with whom more than 80 mobile apps on his phone competing for their attention. With most push notifications turned off, it was still a struggle not to get involved if I saw that there was some activity on my home screen, but I was motivated to figure out a better way.
Delay? Maybe. Impulsive behavior? Absolutely! Knowing that the phone would have something rewarding to offer in the way of conversation, @ mentions, or details of the weekend weather forecast, I knew I would be buzzing in no time – but I had lost in time that I might have been assigned a little wiser. To fix it, I came up with my own three-point plan. “The power of three, is the key,” I tell myself. Things need a slogan phrase sometimes, and it’s a starting point for changing habits. Here’s what I do:
- At 9 a.m., put your phone on silent / don’t bother / don’t message me. The name varies depending on your mobile OS.
- Pick up your phone once a day and answer all the texts at a set time. Don’t educate.
- After work, unplug your phone and be available if you want to be.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve hit a crease in a project and been derailed by text or incoming push notification. It’s all my fault and I could certainly go on to make sure I stay focused (see: mute your phone). Fortunately, every app has settings for notifications, and smartphones are pretty nice nowadays about what they can do for encourage focus, surprises. You just need to work hard to make sure the structure works for you.
The ease with which your phone’s settings can be manipulated to better promote overall well-being and balance between being human and working with technology is quite profound. It’s not necessarily magic, but rather using a tool appropriately while you list elements of the tool to improve your relationship with it. Silencing the phone helped me develop a powerful structure during the work week that gave me control over how and when I interface with it, making sure I stay focused on the task. Until I get paid to casually scroll through apps and text friends during the workday, the urge to check my phone is best mitigated by the simple choice of silence.
TLDR: If you’re struggling with focus during the workday, try to silence your phone for the duration – with some care and intent, it’s a strategy that will ultimately break the habit of unconsciously monitoring your phone throughout the day.