September 13, 2015 · change misc

Turning Distractions Down

During my last holidays I spent a week in a Cambodian forest, where we only had two hours of electricity a day. The first days we awaited for those hours to connect with the rest of the world, send emails... and check Facebook. But as the week progressed, we forgot about our phones and learned not to seek distractions when we didn’t have anything to do. It was liberating.

Distractions

Strangely enough, during that week the world just kept going. Nothing bad happened. I realised that I didn’t need to constantly check the phone. That reading (and everything, really) was better without being interrupted by unimportant notifications. So when I came back to my “normal life”, I decided to turn distractions down.

These are some of the tricks I used.

Contextualising

Everything has a time and a place, but being always connected means that we can get interrupted at any time. To fight against that, I limited services to a specific context: home, work or mobile.

For example, since I don’t want to mindlessly check my phone when I’m out, I uninstalled the Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn apps. I can check them at home if I want to. On the other hand, I check Feedly only in my phone because I like to read when I’m on the bus.

Simply (a Bit of) the Best

Every day a crapton of good content is created. But the truth is that I cannot read it all. So I don’t want to waste my time with sources that are not consistently really good. I removed all the RSS feeds that didn’t live to this standard, and I did the same with the people I follow on Twitter.

I will surely miss out on good content, but that was already happening anyway.

Avoid Unrequested Distractions

The last thing I did was to remove all the unrequested distractions that pop up every now and then. Like the infamous Clippy from Microsoft Word, most of the time these distractions are an unneeded interruption.

Some of the distractions I eliminated include the “new tab” tiles in my browser and all the push notifications in my phone. Another thing to limit is the recurrent emails from LinkedIn, Quora and the likes.

Sum Up

To be honest, I was a bit scared when I did this information pruning. What if I miss a great article? What if I don’t see my friends pics within 5 minutes of being taken? As I learnt during my holidays, nothing bad happens. You will just be more focused on whatever you’re doing. You will be less likely to wander around the Internet. You won’t feel the need to check your phone constantly.

Give it a try: contextualise your services, keep only the best and avoid distractions. I bet you won’t regret it!

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