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A ‘notification audit’ is required

I got a new laptop today… WHOOP!

After the initial blip of ‘buyer’s remorse’ that tends to come with such a purchase (for me anyway), I unwrapped the wee beasty and set to work transferring my entire Talking Steps Therapy business onto it.

As I knuckled down to list out exactly what I needed to transfer to the shiny new powerhouse, I realised something that made me stop in my tracks.

I actually froze midway through typing a sentence.

I had been using my old work machine for so many different things that my attention must have been really divided. I used my old machine for personal emails, text messages, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, web browsing, the odd game… and I also had the kids schoolwork on there… and I also had my coursework and CPD work on there… and I also had my business information, website, branding, marketing etc on there…. the list goes on and on… AND ON!

On reflection, the result of this cacophony of uses was that my attention was being dragged from pilar to post – don’t shut that window because the kids need it… what was that notification… who was that email for… You get the picture.

That got me thinking about how our brains cope with having our attention fragmented, and the effect that doing this has on our mental and physical health, as well as our work efficiency. 

Multitasking used to be seen as a strength.
Now we know it’s actually damaging to your mental health.

Research has shown that a message pinging on your phone can break your concentration enough so that it takes you 10 minutes to get back up to speed with the task you were doing before. That’s a message pinging… the notification… you haven’t even picked up your phone or looked at the message yet and you’re 10 minutes away from being back at your previous peak efficiency!

I’d like you to all take a moment and think about how many notifications you’ve had in the last hour. The last 10 minutes. Heck, in the time it’s taken you to read this far!

It’s astounding how many times we’re interrupted in the day by notifications and emails. Each time that happens, our attention gets fragmented, and our efficiency reduces. and this can lead to increased anxiety and stress.

No wonder we feel mentally drained.

I’m sure you already know how we can fix this… but let’s be honest, how many of you are actually going to switch off your notifications and emails whilst working on something else? Not many, if any, would be my guess. I certainly am not!

I am however, going to do a notification audit on my new laptop.

By reviewing which notifications I really need, as opposed to those that simply draw my attention or give me a dopamine hit (more on this another day), I can reduce the volume of interruptions and stay up at a higher efficiency position throughout the day. The massive upside of this is that I won’t end my workday feeling mentally exhausted. Yes, I’ll still be tired but as I’ll have been mentally pulled around less, I’ll have more mental space to do the things I like to do to relax. A notification audit is the way forward for me!

So, over the next few days maybe spend a bit of time listening to and watching for your reactions to your notifications. You might decide that it would be worth doing a notification audit yourself.

Let me know what you think or how you got on in the comments below.

A wise man once told me that you can always tell a senior employee from a junior employee by their reaction to a new laptop. The junior gets all excited at having the latest, fastest, shiniest tech, whilst the senior curses the fact that they will be spending the next few days finding all the little items, shortcuts and apps that are missing from their heavily customised old work horse. And how very true that fact is