In today’s 24/7 online society I’ve always felt that unease of needing to reply or act upon every notification. Our phones bleep, blink and our computers show us pop-ups and other alert of would be important things I need to act on. I’ve always been very prone to reacting the instant I receive a message from someone, but I’ve been working on getting rid of that feeling of unease for quite some time now and the best way to do that is to reduce screen time, turning off notifications and just checking your messages a few times a day. So, what can you do to feel less stressed?
One of the easiest ways to not feel urged to react is to keep a well-organised mailbox. Everyone has their own preferences for this, so I won’t go into a long debate on how it should be done, but keeping your inbox clean and only leaving mails there that really need your attention should make a big difference. I created folders for several types of messages and I only keep those that are truly important there. The rest goes directly to the trash as soon as I’m done with them.
It’s also wise to turn off all notifications, pop-ups and sounds that indicate that you have new mail. Not only are these a distraction, they can also cause you to get stressed out and that’s something you really don’t want to. Because it’s not needed. I know I’ve got a couple of colleagues that ask me if I read their email almost the instant they sent it to me and I always tell them the same thing: “No, I hadn’t bothered to check my mail yet, because mail can wait.” And it can, really. If something was so important, why would someone mail you? Calling or face-to-face contact is always faster and better! I would argue that it is handy to have mail as a means to read everything later, for reference, which is very true, but the importance of emails and their urgency is heavily overrated if you ask me.
Facebook, Reddit and Instagram can be so much fun, but you know what they can also be? Massive time drains! I know I’ve spent countless hours on social media (and still do), but one thing that really bothered me was that stupid dot with the number of updates you have! It really was a sport for me to get that thing to disappear. At one point I started to feel like I was part of some sort of social experiment and decided to just remove the Facebook app from my phone, as well as messenger. I only check my social media on my laptop now, with the exception of Instagram, but I don’t spend hours on Instagram and love the visual nature of it much more than I do Facebook. The key is not to follow too much people 😉 If all of this seems too rigorous, at least try to turn off all the notifications these apps send you, because they aren’t needed. Social media can wait, really, it can.
Your phone is not your life
Although we’ve come to believe otherwise, your phone is not your life. Almost everyone in the Netherlands uses WhatsApp and I think the chat apps have in many ways replaced regular phone calls. I mean, I don’t even use my phone to call primarily anymore. I use it as a chat device, as a camera and as a video game system (although I only play the one game: Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes). I already told you I removed Facebook and Messenger from my phone, but I’ve decided to take it one notch further. I’ve also turned off one function in WhatsApp, the blue ticks that inform the sender that their message has been read. Why, I don’t really know, but always when I saw that someone knew I had read their message, I felt the urge to send a reply on the spot. I decided this is not healthy behaviour and that’s why I turned them off. I don’t want to experience any pressure to reply to anyone on the spot.
I have to admit that turning off the blue ticks felt like another weight off my shoulders. You should try these tips sometime, maybe it’ll help you to experience less stress about your digital life, because no message can ever be more important than a simple phone call or real life contact. 😉
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