Your Life with a Smartphone filled with distractions. Here’s how to focus, get stuff done and stop the noise.

It feels like it’s never going to stop right? Information overload. Who isn’t bombarded with too much stimuli from the fast paced world we live in? Stop the Noise!

A friend recently tweeted this article from AFR. The article is about an individual who “liberated” himself from the noise of his distracting smartphone. His solution was to replace his smartphone with the old school Nokia phone capable of SMS and phone calls only. Maybe some WAP too 😉

nokia-phone-old-school

Is this extreme? Yeah I think so. Are there simpler methods to quieten down your world without going as extreme? Sure there are. Many actually. Let’s take a peek at each.

Your smartphone

Your smartphone is calling you for your attention every time an email arrives across all your n email accounts. From your uncle’s cat tweets to your cousin Billie posts about the latest pizza he had for breakfast. Oh let’s not forget the calendar on your phone nagging you about that meetup you have tomorrow night. Oh the distractions. They all arrive on your smartphone in the form of a buzz, vibration or light flicker. Yes you can get your phone to blink the camera light. The switch is under Accessibility settings.

Stop the Noise

Note: the following instructions are for the iPhone only. I’m sure Android has similar.

  1. Turn on DND (Do Not Disturb) by swiping your screen up and pressing the moon icon. Your phone will stop buzzing and/or vibrating. Make sure you add your favorite contacts inside your contacts app so at least they can reach you via phone.
  2. Turn off most apps Notifications. Head into your phone’s Settings > Notifications and turn them off. Be smart. And decide which of the top 5 apps you need to bug you. Every time you install an app it gives sneaks in full Notifications. Unless you are explicit when you first run the app. Most peeps press Ok hence the Notifications burden.
  3. When focusing, place the phone face down. This will stop the stream of notifications invading your lock screen from disturbing you. If something is urgent they will call you. If the person is important (favorite) contact the call will by pass DND mode.

And that’s it! Your phone is now quieter.

Get Productive!

  1. Offload all the nonsense in your head for processing later. This way you can focus on the task at hand. Use a tool like GSDfaster app which has GTD at its core of collecting stuff into a trusted source. GTD is a method that works well for me and countless others. When our short term memory contains 7+ to-dos, a FIFO (First In First Out) algorithm kicks in. You only realize this later. When that deep uncomfortable feeling creeps in. That thing you forgot pops up and you panic in a “drop everything and do this before I forget” mode. Not an effective way to function in today’s busy society. Offload everything from your head into a trusted source. Focus and get things done faster stress free.
  2. Focus on 1 thing at a time for a set period of time. The feeling of having completed something is relieving. Remember that multitasking is a misnomer. Humans have one processor with many threads spawning processes every few seconds. Hold on, that’s like a traditional computer. Yap. The way multitasking works in humans is these chunks of stuff get processed by context switching. Unlike a machines, you have limited energy. So most folks never end up completing stuff to feel that relief of achievement. Best method I’ve found to help you focus is The Pomodoro Technique. It forces you to do 1 thing in a set period of time.
  3. Unplug & Relax your body and mind with exercise, meditation and/or sensory deprivation. This is how you unplug & recharge you batteries after a long day. It also helps you learn to focus better. My favorite form is exercise and the isolation tank for sensory deprivation. Both are easy to get into and have immediate results.

Sensory Isolation Tank Pod

Finally I’m going to leave you with an important tip. Busy is just an excuse. We are all busy. We make time for things through prioritization. Next time you want to say you are busy carefully think about it for few seconds before answering. More on this in a future post.

So there you have it, some great techniques and tools to reduce the noise, stress and get more stuff done in 2016!

~ Ernest

Author: Ernest W. Semerda

Veryfi cofounder (#YC W17 cohort) ~ mobile automation software designed for the construction workforce. GSDfaster founder ~ be more productive. Follow me on Twitter: @ernestsemerda