I am a techie. I can't help myself.
I love learning, and I am forever asking how and why. I enjoy using tools and technology to make my work life easier. My children, however, are not. Weird, I know. Both of my children, ages 23 and 18, are surprisingly unplugged, and I have started taking notes. It is an odd thing when your children grow up and start teaching YOU lessons, but I am coming to understand the value of pulling the information overload plug.
Both of my children are dream chasers. My daughter is the only adult I know living out their 5-year-old dream. For years she has relentlessly chased her dream of living that Equestrian #farmlife, and now at 23, she is running her own horseback riding and training business and crushing it. To get there, she sacrificed a lot, but she is doing what she loves and living out her dream.
My son, well, he is a different story. At 18, he is probably the most self-disciplined person I have ever met. Trust me when I say that I am not just saying that because I am his mom. No. No. He puts us all to shame, and it is pretty annoying. He is extremely goal-oriented and lives his life with an ongoing bucket list. If you want to see someone genuinely unplugged then spend a day with him! On average, he spends 19 minutes a day on his phone. (Thanks @iPhone, for the new screen time tool). He is very purposeful and intentional in WHAT, WHO, and WHERE he invests his time so that he can focus on doing what he enjoys and achieving his goals.
I picked up my phone 133 times a day. 928 times in one week.
While hanging out with my son one day, I asked to use his iPhone, and his screen time notice came up. I had been using it for about 20 minutes (which seemed like 5 minutes), and already I had spent more time on his phone than his daily average. So, I picked up my phone and checked to see what my average was, and HELLO was I shook.
So, I will be vulnerable here, and I hope you won't judge. I mean, I know you will, that is, until you look at your own phone, and then you might get shaken too. In the last seven days, I have spent 29 hours and 28 minutes on my phone. On average, 4 hours and 12 minutes per day. I picked up my phone 928 times in one week and around 133 times a day. WHAT!
Recently, I had a personal situation that caused me to re-evaluate my life. Where was I investing my time? What am I putting a high value on? Who was I truly engaging with? Was I striving to achieve my dreams, or was I just being busy? Was I being present? Truth be told, I didn't like my answers. So, I have decided that I want to be like them when I grow up. I doubt I will ever be as unplugged as my not-so-little "littles," but I have taken some practical steps to start changing those answers. I am okay being a techie, but only because I enjoy it. I'm not okay when it starts owning me, and being honest, it was. So, if you are like me, and you find yourself distracted and not living your life the way you want, then start taking back control.
Here are five ways that I am starting to take back control. I started using my iPhone as a productivity enhancer and NOT a distraction.
I Make Widgets Work for ME - I don't know why I have never done this before! This one changed and dramatically improved my daily focus and efficiency. Today's view on my iPhone was never helpful because I never customized it to how I use my phone or the apps that I used most often. Honestly, I never even considered how I set it up or that it could change my daily efficiency. I would randomly scroll through the defaults, annoyed that I could not see the items that mattered to me.
For example, I use the Outlook app for email and calendar instead of the iPhone apps, but I could never see my calendar in today's view because iPhone defaults the widget to its own mail app.
Duh, Melissa, easy fix! Now, I have all of my favorite apps all in one spot, which helps me drive my daily productivity.
I Set Social Media Limits - Set a limit on the amount of time you are willing to invest in social media apps. For those of you that experience FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), there is always the urge to open that notification to see what you missed, but that is also a huge time waster. When you have reached that limit, you get a notification that you can easily bypass, but if you are intentional about spending your time, you can decide if you want to invest.
I Schedule Downtime - Intentionally schedule downtime to temporarily disable social media notifications. You can easily choose the apps you always want available to you and which apps you want a break from. During your scheduled downtime, you will not receive notifications from your phone, and the apps will be greyed out. Personally, I schedule downtime every morning from 6:30 am to 10:00 am. I know I am the most productive during the morning, and I want to limit distractions during the most valuable part of my day.
I Decluttered & Organized Apps - This one sounds simple, but I found myself constantly scrolling through 5 different pages of apps that I rarely used. Did I really use them? If not, then I deleted the app. If I did, then I created folders and organized them by how I used them. Now, I have easy access to the apps that are valuable and important to me without all the clutter. Just this one simplification makes me happy.
I Use Reminders - I've got lots of moving parts in my world. I am juggling many tasks between my career, personal business, family, and professional network, so I started using the iPhone to help me keep it straight. Now, don't get me wrong. OneNote is still my go-to productivity tool, but sometimes I need a simple visual reminder to keep it in front of me and help drive it through to completion.
I am happy to say that since I started taking back control of how I use my phone, my usage has been down 30%! I didn't say that I was perfect... just getting better! I have noticed that I am much more intentional about what I am doing and that I am being present in my life.
I would love to hear how you are taking back control of your time, energy, and focus. What tools do you use to help you drive your goals to completion?