Armed with an obsessive love of color-coding and all things related to organization, I’m on a mission to help you maximize efficiency in your business and life so you can spend time on what matters most to you.
Equally right and left-brained, I’m that unique business owner who can think like a creative, but act like an administrator. This blog is where you’ll see me bring that dual-brained magic to life, taking the left-brain side of life and breaking it down for your right-brained self.
When it comes to technology, I’m a bit of an odd duck in that, if there was a way to run an online business without using technology, I would totally do it.
Now, don’t get me wrong — I am super grateful for technology and the many opportunities it’s given me (prime example: online business owner, right here), the convenience it affords (hello automation), and the ease it provides in keeping up with family and friends who don’t live nearby (hooray for FaceTime!).
But at the same time, technology isn’t the end-all-be-all, and, in fact, it can be pretty dangerous if completely unregulated.
Late last year, my sister made an offhand comment that it amazed her how much time I could spend on my computer. I, of course, said I was working… but that wasn’t always the case.
The more I dug into it, the more I realized, while I wasn’t anywhere near a full-blown tech addict, I was developing some habits that did not bode well for the life I want in the long run and, in 2018, I set out to change those things by putting boundaries in place and making sure, when I did use technology, it was with a deliberate purpose.
Technology is all around us, and particularly as online business owners, we quite literally need it to do our jobs. But just because technology helps you live your life and do your job well, doesn’t mean it needs to run your life.
Unfortunately, research shows that technology and social media is inherently addictive. And it’s not a coincidence — it’s designed that way. So if we don’t want to succumb to the addiction, we have to take deliberate steps to avoid it.
Sometime in 2016, I started experimenting with social media free weekends with the goal of being more present and less distracted on the days I had the most time to spend with friends and family.
In 2017, I made it an official, consistent goal and have kept up with it ever since.
For me, the social media free zone is all day Saturday and Sunday. I will often do a quick check of social networks before going to bed on Friday, but after that, I don’t check anything again until Monday morning.
If I’m on a trip or something similar where I want to be sharing what’s happening on something like Instagram, I open up the app, post, and close. No additional scrolling or interacting until the weekend is over.
There’s no getting around it: I have workaholic tendencies.
I get it from both my mom and my dad and it’s especially difficult to manage when working from home on a business I totally love. If I’m not careful, I can easily be up until all hours working or responding to emails and other messages when I should be off the clock or in bed.
At the encouragement of my business bestie Alexandra, I took my work email off my phone near the end of last year and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. But since I communicate with most of my clients on a day-to-day basis with Slack, that didn’t stop me from checking and responding to messages outside of office hours… so I took Slack off my phone too!
This means, unless it’s an absolute emergency and my clients text or call me, I have no way of checking or responding to them outside of office hours.
If this is something you want to do but are nervous about, add it to your Welcome Guide! Let your clients know that you desire to be present where you’re at, so work time is work time and life time is life time.
Clearly outline your office hours, how you communicate, and that you’re only available during those specified times unless it’s an absolute emergency.
We’ve all heard the warnings about how terrible it is for your phone to be the last thing you touch at night and the first thing you reach for in the morning.
Even without work communication on my phone, I was still pretty guilty of scrolling through Instagram and responding to text messages minutes before I went to sleep, or grabbing my phone as soon as I woke up, responding to a text message, checking something else, and before I knew it… an hour had passed and I’d done absolutely nothing productive.
So I made a hardline decision: no technology comes into the bedroom past a certain time of day. Period.
When I head into my bedroom at the end of the day, I leave my phone out on my desk, either charging or just sitting there, so I don’t even have the option of grabbing it when I first wake up!
If you use your phone for listening to music or an alarm in the morning, find a non-phone replacement. I use a Sonos speaker with alarms set to turn on my evening/sleep playlist and my wake up playlist at a specified time, so I don’t even have to think about it!
And a bonus, the evening playlist reminds me it’s time to head to bed if I’m not already going in that direction!
Working hand-in-hand with no tech in the bedroom, I also have no tech hours from 10pm-9am. My phone is on Do Not Disturb during this entire time, and the only regular exception I make is using my computer for my workout each morning.
This gives me two full hours with no technology to wind down and decompress before I go to sleep, and a full hour in the morning where I can start my day off well, before having to deal with the demands of my phone or computer.
I do, of course, make an exception if I’m out late with friends, have to meet someone early, or if I need to pull the occasional late night work session.
On a similar note, I also have “no tech zones,” as it were, where I make it a priority to not use technology like the dinner table, whenever I’m out with friends, and the aforementioned bedroom.
In addition to having some pretty strict boundaries where I don’t touch technology at all, I try to use technology as little as possible outside of my defined working hours, primarily because I know it’s super easy for me to waste time scrolling through social media or random websites.
Even though I’m “off the clock,” and not technically wasting work time, I know it’s ultimately not how I want to spend my time.
I do this by taking my phone off of silent, but leaving it at my desk, rather than keeping it in my pocket or by my side. This means I hear it if I receive a text message or phone call, but I’m not picking it up and mindlessly scrolling out of habit.
If you live in a large house and are concerned you wouldn’t hear your phone if you’re in a different room or on a different floor, consider investing in a system that will wirelessly connect your phone to speakers throughout the house.
It basically turns your cell phone into a landline in the sense that you’ll hear the ringing no matter where you are! (But you’ll still have to go hung it down!)
Push notifications are simultaneously the worst and best thing ever when it comes to keeping up to date with what’s happening or responding to texts and other communications in a timely manner.
They’re great because you can get to things fast, but they’re horrible because they’re constantly distracting you from other important tasks — whether it’s the middle of the work day or time for dinner with the family. It’s like the digital equivalent of a phone that never stops ringing.
That’s why I took all push notifications off my phone with the exception of messaging apps like iMessage, Facebook messenger, or Marco Polo.
So the only reason my phone ever lights up with a push notification is because I’m getting a direct communication from someone in my life. That’s it.
To further help with reducing distractions throughout my day, my phone remains on silent basically all the time. And I mean silent. It doesn’t even vibrate.
This means the messages can still come through and light up the screen, but it won’t make any noise and if I want to not be distracted for a short amount of time, I can just flip the phone over and not have to worry about it.
If you use a Mac for work and thus have all your texts and calls synced, you can turn your computer on Do Not Disturb and it will silence any incoming notifications.
The red bubbles will still appear in your dock, but it will get rid of any other push notification equivalents until you turn it off.
Even though I’m the most technologically savvy of my family, I also have the most luddite tendencies.
I’ve long held the belief that if there’s a way to do something without technology, I’m going to think long and hard about whether or not adding technology to the process would actually be beneficial.
Though her case was extreme and I don’t feel I was anywhere near that level of technology addiction, I knew something like that could happen to me if I wasn’t careful.
Research has shown us again and again that technology is addictive, the long-term effects are harmful, and things could easily get a whole lot worse if we’re not careful.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be addicted to anything that doesn’t add value to my life. Technology and social media are things that are good in small doses, but a full-blown addiction does no good for anybody.
One of the effects of technology addiction we’re only beginning to discover is how it affects long-term focus. (Spoiler alert: it’s not good.)
It probably goes without saying that it’s hard to accomplish a lot, much less accomplish high quality work, if you’re unable to remain focused. Shutting down notifications and other digital distractions helps with this on a daily basis, but cutting down your screen time on the whole is also extremely beneficial.
As a major bookworm, reading is one area my aforementioned luddite tendencies pop up the most. I read constantly, yet, I’ve never used or owned a Kindle or other form of eReader and I don’t ever intend to.
This is for a variety of different reasons that have little to do with focus, but it’s a major added bonus! Research has shown your focus actually decreases when you’re reading something on screen — whether it’s a laptop, desktop, tablet, or eReader — in comparison to reading something physical, like a printed book, magazine, or newspaper. People are typically willing to spend less time reading text on screens and they don’t read as carefully, which decreases reading comprehension and knowledge retention.
It’s simple: when your focus increases, so does your productivity.
The more focused you are and the longer you’re able to remain in that focused state, the faster you work and the more you’re able to accomplish.
Even when you’re using technology to get your work done, setting boundaries in place that reduce distractions does wonders for the amount of work you’re able to get done in a day.
By this point, we’ve probably all witnessed it or been a participant in it. You know what I’m talking about — one of those meals or gatherings where everyone is staring at their phones instead of interacting with the people right next to them.
It’s sad, but it happens far more often than most of us would probably like to admit. Even if we’re not actively using our phones, leaving the ringer on while all those push notifications comes through provides the same kind of distractions in life as it does throughout the work day.
Keeping my phone on silent, turning off those push notifications, and keeping those other boundaries in place means I’m able to be present where I’m at — whether that’s relaxing outside with a book or having dinner with friends. I’m able to fully engage in what’s before me, instead of living inside my phone or wishing I was somewhere else.
I’m grateful for technology and use it when I’m working because it better enables me to do my job, but outside the context of work, there’s a limited number of things I need technology for that I legitimately want to spend my time doing.
Time is an incredible gift, and it’s also a nonrenewable one, so I want to spend mine well.
In the same way I know spending hours binging a show on Netflix is not how I want to spend my time, I also know I don’t want to spend hours scrolling through social media or watching random videos on YouTube.
Spending time on things that are important to you is the heart behind this entire business and putting these tech boundaries allows me to practice what I preach each and every day.
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