In the run up to New Year's Eve, I wrote about how to influence yourself to keep your resolutions. As part of that post I committed to writing a post at the end of every month letting you know how it was going.
My resolution was to reduce some of the negative impacts that digital life has on me; such as reduced concentration span and poor sleep. Specifically I set myself the following targets:
- No mobile phone in the bedroom.
- No app notifications on my phone. I can only check notifications once per hour.
- Minimum number of browser tabs open to keep focused on the task at hand.
- 'Leisure browsing' limited to travelling/evenings.
So here's the January update.
No Phone In The Bedroom
Progress. So far the only time I've had my phone in the bedroom was when I was staying in a hotel and had no choice. Even then the phone was left on the desk away from the bed.
Effect. My sleep tracking watch says I'm not sleeping longer but my periods of waking seem to be fewer and last for a shorter period. I've always been a light sleeper and frequently wake during the night. When I had my phone in the room my brain would 'feel' more active and be wanting me to check what I had missed. Leaving the phone downstairs seems to have reduced my Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) allowing my brain to return to sleep more quickly when I wake and preventing my mobile phone from stopping me getting to sleep in the first place.
Bottom Line. I'm waking up feeling more rested even when I've had the same amount of sleep.
No App Notifications
Progress. I've moved all work related apps that send notifications to one group on my phone home screen and turned off all the notifications. I've now got one place that I can go to check things that need checking but I choose when to do that rather than responding to a prompt from my phone. I haven't quite stuck to the 'once an hour' check rule I had set myself but sometimes I don't check at all for several hours.
Effect. Fewer interruptions. I am still checking fairly regularly but this depends on how focused I am.
Bottom Line. I'm focusing more on tasks without interruptions but still need to remove some of the desire to check. More FOMO in play here!
Minimum Browser Tabs Open
Progress. Probably not as good as some of the other areas. This actually requires constant self-checking to make sure I'm doing something, i.e. closing tabs I don't need. I often find something online that I want to focus on later and despite trying various apps, web clippers, etc I haven't found one that works for me. I'm therefore still keeping tabs open as a reminder that I want to read that thing later. I do catch myself at times and then close unnecessary tabs feeling annoyed at myself.
Effect. Slightly reduced distractions but some are still there.
Bottom Line. More work to do here. I've now installed a Google Chrome extension which will automatically close inactive tabs after a preset time.
Minimise 'Leisure' Browsing Time
Progress. Numbers 1 and 2 have reduced my overall browsing time although I still find myself at times absentmindedly checking Facebook or non-business Twitter when I shouldn't be.
Effect. Reduced distractions but some are still there.
Bottom Line. The phone is the real danger here. Removing some social apps and relying on opening a web browser to reduce accessing them is a strategy to try in February.
So far I'm doing fairly well at my resolution and haven't totally relapsed in any of the areas I wanted to reduce digital distractions. I'm already reading a bit more and wasting less time. There's still quite a lot of work to be done and trying to differentiate between 'work' and 'leisure' digital time isn't always easy.
I do feel more rested and focused but this may have something to do with getting back to regular running as well.