One of the first things I do when I leave for vacation is turn off my push email notifications on my phone. It’s an exhilarating feeling! Whenever I complete this vacation ritual, it’s as if someone has lifted 100 pounds of weight off my shoulders. The ball and chain and the constant demand for my attention is no more.
In the past, when my vacation was over, my email notifications were turned back on and I would resume back to my normal day-to-day routine, and the incessant drive to constantly be connected. I would worry that if I wasn’t attached to my phone, I’d miss something. Would a work emergency be left unattended? Would I take too long to response to an important email? How would my staff solve problems if I wasn’t available to help them? This was the constant chatter in my brain. How could I unplug and still be successful? What would I miss if I wasn’t connected to my phone?
A few months back, I took the time to reflect on these concerns. Were my concerns valid? Maybe, but I also found there were risks for me in falling down the technological rabbit hole when my email push notification was turned on. I was beginning to wonder if it was really rewarding to be THAT connected everyday? So, I decided to take my vacation ritual one step further. I pushed aside my technological FOMO and when I got back from my most recent vacation, I never turned my notifications back on. (GASP!)
This small choice has had a significant difference in my day-to-day life. I want you to join me! If the idea of technological freedom isn’t enough to jump on board, here are five reasons to not be afraid to disconnect.
- You’ll Be More Present in Your Relationships
How often are you with a friend for coffee or spending time with your significant other, having a great conversation or just enjoying each other’s company, when you feel that buzz in your pocket? Is it a call? Text Message? Email? You’re taken away from the present moment, and the human connection you were experiencing. We check our phones. Instantly, we’re in an entirely different world, disconnected from the person in front of us.
I’m sure you’ve been on both ends of this experience and it’s truly heart breaking. It‘s hurting our relationships and our ability to connect with others. And it’s completely unnecessary. Be present. The people you love will thank you.
- You’ll be More Productive
There are hundreds of studies on how ineffective multitasking is. Having push notifications sent to your phone or computer is just that, multitasking, and a distraction. Imagine if you stopped checking your emails every 15 minutes and focused on completing the project you were working on. You’d be more efficient and the quality of your work would improve. Answering emails (most likely) isn’t the only part of your job. Give your equal, and full attention, to all the tasks you need to complete. Try only checking your emails twice a day, at noon and at 4 PM as suggested in The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferris (on my Good Reads List!).
- No More Bad News Effecting Your Mood
This was a BIG one for me, especially when it comes to your personal life. I have a job that requires me to check my emails frequently (like most people in 2017). There would be times that I would leave work, ready to unwind or already unwinding, and then an email notification would pop up. I’d see who it was from and the first sentence, drawn to open and answer it…mostly out of habit. Curiosity killed the cat.
Then…BAM, bad news bears. A new issue at work, something new that I’m going to have to deal with tomorrow. I can feel my face starting to get hot and my mind spiraling as I think about how we’re going to fix the problem. Now, not only am I disconnected with my present reality, but also, I’m flustered, stressed, annoyed, or down-right mad depending on what happened. I’ll end up spending the next 30 minutes of my night trying to get back to a relaxed state all because of one email. No one needs that. If it’s not an emergency, you can sort through the problem tomorrow. It’s not going anywhere.
- You’ll Sleep Better
This ties into point #3. How often do you check your emails before bed and can’t fall asleep after? Forget about the exposure to blue light, what about all the stress and anxiety of all the tasks you’ll need to complete tomorrow. How will you ever get it all done!? Now all you’ve accomplished for yourself is a bad night of sleep, a less productive work day tomorrow, and a vicious cycle that is likely to repeat itself.
- It Will Keep You Sane
No joke. I check my emails when I am in the right place, with the right mindset. It allows me to feel more calm and balanced. I’m less likely to send an email that doesn’t have the right tone to it and I have time to think things through. Since turning off my email notifications, I feel lighter when I’m not working. I’m able to disconnect and de-stress better than before, and I more capable of handling tough situations.
So, what do you have to lose? Try it! Give yourself one week without email notifications and see how it goes. I have a strong feeling it will help improve your personal and professional life. This is a great first step to creating a more balanced life for yourself and the people you surround yourself with. Think of it as a good “gateway drug”!
I will leave with one last bit of advice, if you have a positive experience turning off your email notifications, then check out folkrebellion.com. A company created by a desire to encourage the return of living in real life. They love things that are tangible like nature, humans, paper, and music made with instruments. It’s an appreciation and instruction manual for living in the present with actual things among flesh, blood, and bones people. Follow them on Instagram or check out their website here. They have a lot of great recommendations on how to better connect in a technology filled world.
Let us know how it goes!
Life is happening, get out there and experience it.