Notification Anxiety: What to do about it

We have all felt it before, that feeling of checking your phone just to see if something new has happened in the last two seconds…..nope nothing….*sigh*.

Notification anxiety stems mostly from the lack of our ability to do nothing for extended periods of time. In an age of hyper productivity where everyone has to be doing something all the time in order to feel effective it has created some leering gaps in the process. A lot of us could be working a lot harder than we are but in the moments where their isn’t a precise task assigned to us then we revert to our default: browsing our phone.

This isn’t true for everyone as many people are either extremely busy or they are extremely mindful of their environment. I can’t assume you will be THAT busy but I can help build a routine for the mindfulness so it can become a default instead.

This is gonna sound crazy….

Mute your phone! 

  • Turn off your phone ringer– if it’s actually anybody important they will leave a message, you know it’s true.
  • Turn off text alerts: You aren’t the president, it can wait. You will reply when you see them and no other time. I shouldn’t be hearing a dinging sound every time someone texts me.
  • Turn off notifications: Knowing every time somebody comments on your page or you unlocked something in a game is just a waste of time. It’s designed to suck your attention back into the application, that’s the whole game they are playing.

You are bigger and better than all this, please turn it all off immediately, then you’ve completed step 1.

Life is much better this way.

Onto a new default state…..

If you know you have a lull period coming up during the day, then do the following.

Put your phone deep in your bag or desk. 

Make it difficult to get after your and check it nonstop. When you are done the work for the day then take a few deep breaths, reply to any messages you may have gotten and put your phone away. Replies don’t matter anymore, it’s not worth it.

Get from point A to Point B and don’t check your phone along the way. It’s hard to do this in the beginning so what should you do instead?

  • Look around: See the environment in great detail, map every surface you can, and smile at strangers. Breathe more often and feel being in the moment. Easier said then done I know so I gave you a few more options.
  • Music: Get yourself a nice pair of headphones and just chill in your own zone. In my opinion this is the best alternative for those chronically addicted to notifications because you are still “using” your phone while at the same time not “using” it. Learn to build various playlists for all types of journey’s , you will thank me if you haven’t done so.
  • Writing: Keep a notebook on you at all times and use it specifically for writing in your phone free moments. A small pocket notebook isn’t that expensive so it’s worth the money. I suggest maybe keeping an idea journal of sorts, come up with ideas on how to spend your phone free time better. Perhaps record emotions on how you feel without your phone, then you will see how much anxiety you really have.
  • Fitness: If you normally get chaperoned via car then you likely spend half your time on your phone in that car unless you are driving. I would suggest biking to nearby destinations, you get exercise and you don’t spend time browsing! Same goes for running and other physically intense methods of travel.

Pick one or all of these and then you have completed step two.

Now to make it a habit…..

I’m no habit expert but I’ve read a few solid books on the subject and it stems around 3 basic steps:

  1. Cue
  2. Action
  3. Reward

*As per Charles Duhigg’s book: The Power of Habit.

It takes about 30 days to establish the framework for a new habit but about 90 days to have it fully incorporated into your lifestyle. Why did Google Play give a free music subscription for 90 days?

Because that’s how long it takes before it becomes fully integrated into your lifestyle and suddenly paying $10-ish a month seems like a worthwhile investment. Business tactics, gotta love how creative they get.

You will do something similar except for your notification anxiety habits.

The cue will likely be the movement of putting your phone away or deep in your bag/desk. This signals the brain it’s the start oWhat’s your level of social media addiction?f the new habit.

The action will be you listening to music or writing , etc.

The reward will be the ability to check all the notifications at once after the action is completed, you get a much better rush and you prioritize your time better. Follow this system and hopefully your notification anxiety will be a thing of the past!

I hope you enjoyed this piece of writing and stay updated for even more great tips & how-to’s.

Some more reading:

Why is Social Media so Scary?

What’s your level of social media addiction? 

Are you a slave to social media?

Image by:

Anete Lūsiņa

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