Dinner and quality conversation: one of my favorite duos. And yet lately, I have found the conversation stopping suddenly, mid-sentence even. We're interrupted. Not by the server, not by another patron, but by someone not even in the room. In might be through a phone or a watch, but regardless, it brings conversation to a halt.
That's why when my Fitbit died this fall and I was considering switching over the Apple Watch my husband was wary. Wary of the notifications jumping in and entering in moments and spaces where they don't belong. We came to a compromise: I bought a watch, but the turned the notifications off.
This, combined with my work with students has had me thinking this year a lot about notifications, and I've come to a conclusion: just because it can, doesn't mean it should.
You can set your device to ring/beep/vibrate whenever someone calls or texts.
But just because it can, doesn't mean it should. Most of the time, people don't need that instant access to us. We can put our devices on silent (notice silent, not vibrate) and engage with the people who are face-to-face in the room with us. If you're a parent of teenage kids and you're worried that you'll miss an emergency, utilize the "Do Not Disturb" function, which will silence all calls/texts except for calls coming from your favorites list or if someone calls twice in a row. This boundary doesn't need to be there all the time, but we should have sacred spaces and moments that can't be interrupted, like the dinner table for example.
You can receive a pop-up every time your receive a new email.
But just because it can, doesn't mean it should. One of the biggest classroom management issues we had with a 1:1 environment is students "passing notes" via email during class. Since many of our students have notifications set up for their email, they receive pops up that distract them. And who am I kidding, I've been derailed at least three times already in the course of writing this blog post. There's been a big push against these notifications in the entrepreneur world in favor of "batching" tasks, like writing 3 blog posts in a row so that your brain stays in that mode. Again, it's rare that our emails are urgent, and most of the time we don't respond to them right away any way. I think I'm preaching to myself here to turn off my email notifications when I'm trying to get some serious work done.
You can receive alerts every time someone likes your post.
But just because it can, doesn't mean it should. We post pictures, videos, or words on our social media to share with others. But there's often an underlining motive. Have you ever found yourself going back constantly and checking notifications? I know I have. What's the point of these alerts? If it was truly important, wouldn't the writer call us?
I'm spending time re-evaluating the notifications I receive on a moment by moment basis and trying to be intentional. Intentional in my work. Intentional in my face-to-face relationships. Intentional with being fully present. I'm not perfect at it by any means, but I hope to keep learning and growing in it. And I hope my students will too.
How do you choose what notifications to use in your life and work?