Tech Tip: Disconnect and Recharge

Disable push notifications from social media to limit distractionsThe new year is a wonderful time to shift priorities, to give more attention to the things we value and make less room for the things we don’t. Whether you are maker of resolutions or detest the idea, the start of a new year can be a great time to set some goals and review priorities.

This year, why not consider improving your relationship with the technology you use everyday? It’s the perfect time to do a quick audit of how you’re using technology and how technology is using you. And as with any goal-setting activity, consider using the SMART system: make your goals Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

Here are five easy ways to get started, and once you’re on a roll we bet you’ll find more. Our goal here is to help you handle the information that comes at you more effectively and on your timeline—think of this as a project that will help you be more proactive and less reactive.

Review and Reset Your App Notifications

Push notifications from apps create distraction, but most of us just accept the default notification options. You have control over how and when most apps notify you, and whether they notify you at all. If you find that social network apps are driving you to distraction, this is a great way to manage the number and frequency of notifications you receive.

Manage Your e-newsletters

We receive dozens of messages from retailers, organizations, political campaigns, news outlets, and more, many of which we don’t have time to read immediately. And many just aren’t relevant to us anymore. To keep these from flooding your main email, set up folders for your favorites and new messages will go directly to the folder. And if you’re interested in a bulk unsubscribe, check out a service like unroll.me.

Evaluate How You’re Using Your Smartphone

Do you keep your smartphone by your bed at night? Studies have shown that interacting with technology close to bedtime can negatively impact sleep, and anecdotally we all know that midnight emails do little more than provoke anxiety. Turn your phone off overnight if you can and enjoy a quiet sleep. If you can’t turn it off, consider using a sleep mode app to silence all but approved calls and your alarm clock.

Resist Your Itchy Fingers

If you’ve set your push notifications in a way that works for you, you’ll probably have fewer moments where you feel stressed and compelled to respond to a message immediately. But if you do feel that way, consider whether the message really requires immediate action. If not, send it to a task app like any.do or use the built-in reminder tools in your email app to create a reminder. You’ll get the satisfaction of having acted on it without feeling pressure to write a cogent response on the teeny screen of your smartphone.

Consider a Weekly Technology Break

We use our technology for amusement as much as we use it for work, but it can feel very liberating to disconnect for a brief period each week. One reason some of us don’t do this is because of the fear of missing important messages or news. Be proactive and let people know that you’re going offline and how to contact you with anything important (and you decide what’s important). Use your email’s vacation responder to let people know you’re offline, and consider other ways you want to communicate your break—social media, voicemail message, etc.

If you set up your systems well you’ll be in a better position to connect more fully in the positive ways that make a difference for you. Do you have a tip for building a better relationship with the technology we use everyday? Please share it in the comments!