‘The shorter way to do many things is to do only one thing at a time’
~ Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
I have always been slightly obsessed with multi tasking to increase productivity and have developed many ways that I like to multi task over the years such as listening to audio books when running, reading in the bath and catching up on my e-mails on the metro.
More recently I have been exploring the concept of single tasking. As the name suggests, this is the concept of setting up your life so you can focus on one thing at a time and limit all other distractions.
I read this awesome post by Tristan Harris, Distracted in 2016? Reboot Your Phone with Mindfulness This article was a game changer for me. It describes how to set up your iPhone so that you use it more mindfully. It sounds too basic to make a real be difference, but I recommend you try it, you’ll be amazed at the impact.
Inspired by this article, I set about removing as many distractions as I could from my life. Here is how I recommend you do the same:
1) Change your app layout on your phone (as suggested in the great article above)
If you follow the steps in the article, you will honestly find this transforms your life. When you look at your phone, you are not nearly as distracted and it will hopefully help you limit the amount of time you waste on things that are not important to you. This has transformed my life in a huge way. It sounds small but the impact was immense.
2) Delete all apps you never use
This is pretty self explanatory. Don’t have apps taking up space on your phone if you never use them. It will clutter it up unnecessarily.
3) Unfollow people on Facebook
Consider how precious your time is, then consider whether you want to spend any time at all finding out what is going on in certain peoples lives. Are you really interested in what a friend from school that you have not seen for 15 years is doing or, what an old colleague from years ago thinks about something? If not, then don’t waste your time following their movements. Go through your friends list and unfollow everyone you are not interested in. You will find there is now a lot less going on in your feed which might also make it less tempting to constantly check it. This has hugely limited the time I was spending checking Facebook.
4) Remove Facebook notifications
You can remove Facebook notifications in a few different ways to both minimise the notifications you receive and stop as many alerts that make you reach for your phone and stop you focusing on what you are currently doing.
- Unfollow all groups where you don’t want to see the activity unless you specifically look
- Turn off notifications of groups where you do not to be alerted when someone else posts
- Remove yourself from all groups no longer relevant for you
- Remove push notifications to alert you to new activity and turned off vibration, so you choose when you check Facebook, and are no longer prompted to check immediately as activity occurs.
5) Update your phone notifications
Removing as many notifications as you can minimizes the distraction coming from your phone. Turn off vibration alerts as well as sound, to allow full focus. Here are some ideas on what you can turn off:
- E-mail notifications. You will always have new e-mails, you don’t need to be notified as each one comes in.
- Whatsapp notifications. You can still get these pushed to your home screen, but if you take off the sound and vibration alert, you can chose to only see them when you look at your phone rather than checking as soon as you hear a notification.
- Facebook notifications. There will be constant activity on Facebook. Decide when you want to check it as part of your schedule, not as each activity occurs
- Other social media alerts (I turned off Twitter, Instagram, Tiny Beans and Timehop)
Now with all these apps, you can choose to check them on your schedule rather than when you get alerted by a notification. This really helps to minimise the amount of time you spend on your phone and also reduces the chance that once you are checking something following an alert to updated activity that you will get distracted checking a whole heap of other things causing even more distraction.
Since I have started this new approach, I have massively reduced the amount of time I use my phone compared to previously. I’d love to hear if you have any tips to minimize distractions from your environment and whether you have been successful at single tasking.