All those messages…!


Since a few months I’m writing a montly item in the newsletter at Capgemini about energy and stress. Tips, tricks and stories about my experiences with stress. I’m getting nice responses about it, and this week I realized I should share them at my blog too! Here is my tip from last month.

So, what is the first activity you do in the morning arriving at the office (while getting coffee or course)? Reading your e-mail right? Some even start with it on the way to the office, or in bed when they wake up (yes, I did it too when I was on a hectic project with Asian colleagues). While reading and answering your e-mail, people start pinging you on Lync even though your status is ‘Busy’, and at the same time others approach you at your desk to request help. All want to have an immediate response from you. Oh, I almost forgot your phone who is beeping and ringing to get your attention from colleagues, managers, friends, and other strangers. After 4 hours you feel like you did a lot, but the progression on your ‘big-task-deadline’ is 0%……

You know, sometimes I get tired of all those messages and notifications. All seem to be urgent (not all are intended to get immediate response, I know, but it feels like to be answered immediately). After seeing Simon Sineks interview I had to confess: all those notifications mean attention and attention is addictive. Damn! I’m additive to notifications… I already had experiences with friends being constantly distracted by their phone in a restaurant. After a while we make agreements to put phones away (for quality time, nice!), but as soon as I go to the toilet, I bring my phone with me. For what? Checking new notifications of course! And while realizing now that I’m addicted to it, I feel stupid.

I did an experiment: I switched off the internet on my phone for a whole weekend. If people need me, they would call my partner (easy), and if I’d need some information, I was using my laptop instead of phone (also easy). I actually missed my phone when I wanted to check tram departure times, so I went back to the old school way: just wait and look around you while waiting…:) Actually I didn’t miss the need to check my phone for new messages, it was gone! And why? Because I didn’t start a conversation with friends on what’s app. Once I start it, I have a constant urge to check if I need to answer. I feel rude when I start a chat, but not finishing it. And you know how it goes with addictions: once you start you can’t stop. So guess what after 1 weekend being offline? I felt totally relaxed on Sunday evening. Calm, stressless, rested. The feeling you have at a holiday on the beach. Wauw! You should try it out as well!

How to embed this lesson to working live? Try out these simple tips for your day-to-day work: switch off the notifications for new e-mail and Lync messages. Don’t get distracted, you decide yourself when to read it! Then, start with your most important task for the day for at least an hour, before reading your e-mail. Resist the feeling that you are missing important messages by ignoring your e-mail 1 hour. Colleagues will ring you if it is important. Extending this time to about 2-3 hours would be better together with answering your e-mail at 2 fixed moments in the working day, but let’s start simpler with only 1 hour. That’s doable right? I bet you’ll feel more productive!

How to embed this in your daily/private live? I’ve switched off all notifications of what’s app and social media. I decide myself when to read it. And yes, I’m missing out messages for a whole morning, just being lost in the old school news paper on Sunday morning… Since I realized how much energy I lose at getting distracted by those notificaitons, I feel less guilty by ignoring my phone. Although I have to admit that I’m still getting pulled to my phone too often. It is the addiction I have to deal with, pffff!

Link to the famous interview of Simon Sinek:


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