We live in a world full of chaos. At-least that’s what I have come to believe. We live in a world that is all about connecting instantly. It has never been easier to get in touch with someone sitting 1000’s of miles away. Simply swipe your smartphone screen, open your instant messenger / texting app and BOOM! You can text, call and even video call and in minutes you have connected to a person in a different country, in a different time zone. This is just one friend. And like this there are dozens of friends that you interact with on a messaging app. Not to mention the 10 different groups on these messaging apps that you are part of. Groups that see hundreds of messages everyday. And then there is all the social media platforms that send you notifications every time someone likes your post and photos, or tags you in theirs. These platforms even send you a notification with reminders for birthdays, of things you did last year, of the comment that an aunt of friend posted on a photo of hers that you liked 6 months ago! And we have email. We all get at least 25-30 emails a day, most often annoying newsletters that turn up even after you repeatedly hit unsubscribe!
I, just like everyone else, am on the top of my social media game. I am a regular user of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more recently Snapchat. [Till last year, a large part of my job was to create, execute, monitor and analyse social media campaigns for brands. So i literally lived and breathed social media.] I just began a career in freelance so I need to use LinkedIn. I’m dabbling in blogging and vlogging so I need the apps for YouTube and WordPress. And then I have all my friends emailing [usually forwarding me crap] and the reader and the over-enthusiast in me has subscribed to a ton of newsletters [some of which I actually read]. Add to that the friends on Whatsapp and the dozens of groups that I have been added to! And all the pings and all the buzzing, even in the middle of the night [Hey its daytime for that friends sitting 1000’s of miles away!] began driving me a little crazy!
At any given point my phone screen showed me 10-15 notifications for almost every app that I had on it. And while this may not bother a lot of people, I’m the kind who needs to my email to have zero unread. I’m almost borderline OCD about this. So imagine the scenario where I wake up in the middle of night to pee and look at my phone to see the time and I see about 10 unread emails and dozens on other notifications on other apps! The OCD in me would open my email while peeing and scan to see if there was anything urgent! WHAT THE HELL IS GOING TO BE URGENT AT 3AM WHILE YOU PEE?? I would then open all the apps that had notifications and go through them and sleep only after my phone was showing zero notifications. It was during one of such times that I realised that these notifications and the feeling of being constantly connected was overwhelming me and was actually of no value. So one day I was chatting with a friend sitting 1000s of miles away and he mentioned that the delay in his response is because he has turned off the notifications for his apps. And that when the light went off in my head. This was the simplest way to tune out the chaos without being a recluse! Somewhere down the line, I had forgotten that I can choose to have the pings and buzzing and I CAN CHOOSE NOT TO!!
It was a liberating thought. That very evening, I went to the settings folder and turned off notifications for EVERY SINGLE APP!! I cannot begin to express the feeling of relief that began flooding through me that very moment! I wasn’t disconnecting from my social media. [Let me be honest, I am a BIG SOCIAL MEDIA BUTTERFLY!] but the OCD in me was no longer giving me sleepless nights [literally]. The next day, I methodically unsubscribed to at least 30 newsletters and online shopping sites. On my phone, I chose to keep only my email notifications. That’s it! I can safely say, that after almost a month of no notifications, I feel so much calmer already. The compulsive need to check my phone is slowly dying down. And it’s always a nice surprise when I open my Instagram or Facebook and see all the notifications. I go through them and once I close my app, its out of my mind. I can use that brain space for other things that matter! Like writing more blog posts and curating my Weekly Favourites or writing letters and postcards! Sure I check these apps a couple of times a day, but that’s when I CHOOSE TO, not because I see notifications that compel me to.
Turning off all notifications has not only helped drown out the excessive chaos from my life but also helped me regain a certain amount of peace a quiet that I sorely needed. And I don’t think I’ll ever want to turn them on ever again!
If you are feeling overwhelmed with life too, try this simple trick and let me know if it helps. Also comment below if you have any more tips that you’d like to share!