Take Back Your Life With One Phone Setting.

Take back your life with one phone setting.jpg

Take Back Your Life With One Phone Setting.

How to use the Do Not Disturb mode the right way.

“Allowing an app to send you push notifications is like allowing a store clerk to grab you by the ear and drag you into their store. You’re letting someone insert a commercial into your life anytime they want.”

— David Pierce

There I was sitting in front of my computer editing the latest video, I was on fire and nothing was going to stop me from reaching my deadlines. When all of a sudden, I felt a ‘buzz’ in my pocket and heard a ‘ding’ emanating from the same location. It was my phone notifying me of a new email that had come in, it was important and it needed my attention. After replying to the first email, I noticed another email had made its way into my inbox, it too needed my attention. After 45 minutes of replying to emails and several messages from a variety of Whatsapp groups (they were important!), I finally managed to get back to editing the video.

Did I hit my deadline? I was nowhere near. This happened often and seldom did I have any peace and quiet to work on what was in front of me. I’m sure you’ve experienced something similar?

It occurred to me, what was stealing my attention was my phone. I knew that in order for me to be uber productive and get work done, I had to have a better relationship with my phone and its notifications.

What began as an experiment to focus on my work, has greatly benefitted every other aspect of my life. From relationships to personal growth, being completely distraction-free has allowed me to direct all my attention to what’s in front of me.

Depending on how you use it, the phone can be a useful tool or an annoying distraction. If you refuse to separate from your phone and leave it in another room, there is another way to stop it from constantly distracting you. In this article, I outline how I’ve managed to take control of my life with just one setting on the phone.

How distractions affect your focus

Every social media platform and messaging app is fighting for your attention and distracting you from what is important. Meaningful time spent with family and friends, creative work and focused studying are all lost because of a notification.

According to a recent study, after a simple distraction,

“It takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task.”

23 minutes! Can you believe it? A simple vibration or light emitting from your phone is enough of a distraction to lose focus, what’s worse is that these distractions happen on a regular basis, how much time are you losing because of a simple notification from your phone? Getting 3 messages within 5 minutes has robbed you from over an hour of focused time.

The one phone setting that can change everything for you

For those of you that that are unaware of the Do Not Disturb mode, it is an option that stops all notifications on your phone, rendering your phone completely silent. All noise, including vibrations and lights, are turned off, this makes it impossible to know if someone has messaged you or not.

Back then, I didn’t understand the concept of not being notified, I thought to be readily available for anyone made complete sense. If I had the Do Not Disturb mode on, how would I know if a family member or friend wanted to get in touch with me? I had no need for this feature. I’m sure you can agree with me?

In my journey of minimising distractions, I realised that in order for me to take back my attention I had to stop all notifications by using the Do Not Disturb mode. It took a few months of experimentation with the settings, but I managed to find a setting that worked for me.

What happened after? I now have a better grasp on life and I feel that I have regained control of my focus, relationships and productivity.

How I’ve set the Do Not Disturb mode

I prefer to have my Do Not Disturb mode on 24/7. I want to check my messages on my terms and not let a notification decide that for me. Using the Forest app, I would work in 25-minute blocks and take a 5-minute break once a block is done. It is only during those breaks that I will check my phone and reply to any messages that I’ve missed.

Recommended reading: The one app to help you focus.

“But what if there’s an emergency?” Sure, I understand that. You want to make sure that you’re available at a time of crises. I assure you, if there’s ever an imminent crisis nobody is going to send you a text message, let alone an email.

It’s for that reason I have only a handful of people (my immediate family, extremely close friends, and business partners) that can call me at any time and I will get the notification. Just to be clear, the only notification I will only receive is a phone call from those that are on my favourite list, I will not be notified if they message me. I’ve told every member on my list that if it is truly an emergency they can call me, for anything else, they can message me and I will get back to them by the end of the day.

Whenever my phone rings I understand that it is an important call and I must pick up, but rarely has this ever happened. With the Do Not Disturb mode on, I have created an order of priorities, if it doesn’t vibrate it doesn’t get my immediate attention.

How to set your Do Not Disturb mode similar to my settings

For Android users:

  1. Settings > Sounds and vibrations > Do not disturb

  2. Check ‘Turn on now’

  3. Select ‘Allow exceptions’

  4. Check ‘Custom’

  5. Set ‘Calls from’ to ‘Favourite contacts only’

  6. Go to your contacts and select only the people that are truly important to you

  7. Check the star next to their names to add them to the favourite list

For iPhone users:

  1. Settings > Do Not Disturb

  2. Check ‘Do Not Disturb’

  3. Select ‘Allow Calls From’

  4. Check ‘Favourites’

  5. Go to your contacts and select only the people that are truly important to you

  6. Select ‘Add to Favourites’

Conclusion

After a few months of living with the Do Not Disturb mode turned on, I realised not everything is as urgent as it seems. I don’t need to pick up every single phone call that comes my way, a text message doesn’t need to be replied to immediately, an email can sit in my inbox for a few hours.

Why let these messages take your attention when you can spend it working on the more important tasks or spending time with people that matter to you most? It’s a matter of priorities and understanding what is important to you.

Would you rather you spend your time reacting to every notification? Or would you rather be active and deliberate with everything you do and take control of your life?

Turning on the Do Not Disturb mode allowed me to do just that, perhaps, it can do the same for you.

I would suggest taking it slow and experiment with the Do Not Disturb setting, if you can find a nice balance between ‘complete isolation’ and ‘readily available’, perhaps, you’ll be able to find that it’ll greatly benefit not only your focus but also your relationships, creativity and all other aspects of your life.

If you’re looking for other productivity tips or you want to develop yourself in other aspects of your life, click here to sign up to the 1-minute report. I am on a mission to learn and document every practical skill to better my life. Once a week I update you on what I’m currently learning and share any tips and tricks that I’ve learned along the way.