Fiona Blayney: silencing digital distractions

Balancing work and family while working from home can be difficult, especially with constant digital distractions. Fiona Blayney offers her top three tips for reducing distractions and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

As I made a cuppa in the kitchen recently, I was chatting with a team member about how great it was to be in the office.

Since returning from holidays, I have been finding it hard to switch between work and family mode when working from home.

My team member, Amelia, has been finding it hard with a lot of noise from a construction site opposite her house.

I told Amelia one of my word sequences this year – cut the noise – and how important it is to be aware of the noise in our world and our power to silence it.

When we reduce the noise in our mind, we create space for calmness, thought, creation and being present. 

When the construction noise started that day, Amelia made a change to reduce it, come into the office and get on with a productive day.

As I sat with this idea, I thought of the ultimate distraction – technology. It’s both our friend and our foe.

We’ve mastered it, but we’re yet to control it.

If you search the term ‘digital distraction’, you’ll find an array of meanings, effects and ways to reduce it.

Here are my three best tips to cull the noise at the end of your fingertips.

More than arms reach

The easiest way to not touch your phone is to keep it out of reach.

When my smart device is next to me, in eyesight, it’s a habit to pick it up.

Every statistic I’ve read on this issue says that about 50 per cent of people have their phone on their desk, next to their bed or in the car. Some even check it on the toilet.

On average, I pick up my phone 101 times each day!

Yes, some of those times were to answer a call, but considering I spend most of my time face-to-face with clients, it’s more likely 50 per cent were moments of distraction. 

The good news is that the number of times I pick up my phone has dropped 20 per cent, just from consciously moving my phone out of reach when I don’t want to be distracted.

I leave my device in another room, my bag, and anywhere but my bedside table. 

Segment your tech time

I recently read an article about a business owner that sent an email auto-reply to tell people they checked their inbox every Friday between 12pm and 2pm.

I was simultaneously both in shock and in love.

I’m not suggesting you only check your email for two hours per week, but there is power in deciding what hits your inbox and when you read and action them.

I challenge you to segment time to check your inbox and deal with your emails.

Also, go deeper and create rules in your email system for their arrival.

If they don’t hit your inbox till 10am, they won’t be there to read. 

Turn off notifications

If you read my articles regularly you will know I bought an apple watch.

It was an excellent purchase for my fitness but not so great for staying on task.

It pings, bings, vibrates and has the attitude of a cat – attention-seeking.  

With an increase in the use of SMS, WhatsApp and DMs on every social app, my watch, phone, laptop and iPad can simultaneously ping, sending my brain into panic.

So I urge you to adjust them to suit your ideal work day and lifestyle. Turn notifications down or off.

You can even curate who can call or text when and, if you don’t want the message, delete it, block it or unsubscribe. 

It’s oh so liberating.

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Fiona Blayney

Fiona Blayney is the founder and director of Real+, an industry first Property Management learning platform. For more info visit realplusonline.com.au.