Last week I went on an email and social media detox.
That’s right: I didn’t read or respond to emails for a week, and I didn’t touch my social media channels. (With a few minor exceptions — I had to go into my email to retrieve my flight itinerary, for example — but they were so minor that it was certainly a #win.)
The detox went off without a hitch. In fact, I prepped so much ahead of time that I didn’t even feel swamped when I got back.
The lesson? Taking a vacation when you work for yourself IS possible. And probably more feasible than you think.
I almost didn’t write this round-up post because other than feeling revitalized and ready to work again, nothing much has changed. And writing a post about how nothing has changed is boring.
But then I realized something HAS changed. Something I’m hoping will help me maintain a better work-life balance going forward. Something that might seem like a small change — but could have big results.
I haven’t turned my phone’s email alerts back on.
Why? Because I realized that little Gmail envelope in the top left corner of my smartphone was ruling my life. Email is how I correspond with everyone — I am a remote worker, after all — and I get a LOT of it. A lot as in 275 unread messages waiting in my inbox when I got back from my week-long detox. And that didn’t even count all the mail that filtered automatically to my “not important” folder. Nor did it include much correspondence from my clients because they knew I was on vacation.
So that Gmail notification shows up on my Android phone every minute or so. Which means I’m constantly interrupting whatever I’m doing to see who emailed me and what they want.
But you know what? Most of those emails do not require immediate attention.
So I’m trying life without email alerts. Yes, that means I’ll check email often when I’m waiting for an important note, but it will be a conscious decision to check email, not a reaction to a notification that probably doesn’t need action at that very moment. That technology will still be still at my fingertips, but not tapping me on the shoulder every 30 seconds.
This is just one of the tweaks I’m constantly making to increase my productivity and focus with the goal of doing better work in fewer hours. To be a proactive worker who chooses my own priorities, rather than a reactive one. The best part? These tweaks are all experiments, so I can always change my approach or drop a strategy altogether if it doesn’t work out.
What tweaks have you made to streamline your digital life?