Over the holidays I took some time off from work, thinking finally I’d have some time to pursue those interests that I keep putting off. But instead, I found myself getting annoyed with how much time I seemed to be wasting on checking Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc. You see, I just can’t stand to see the little badge icons with numbers telling me I have things to do, or the notification banners that so and so said something super clever. I think I have some little bit of an OCD streak in me. Must eliminate the red bebubbled little numbers… must know… must do…
It’s not, for me, so much about feeling like I’m not part of the “real world” (as if that doesn’t extend through the etherweb) or any other Luddite concerns. It is purely a matter of not liking the sense that these nifty ways of connecting with people are taking over my life, that they are in a way controlling me rather than empowering me, that whenever I open my iThing, I am so easily drawn into them and end up losing time that I could be spending reading that great book that has been waiting on me, or learning that language I’ve been wanting to learn, or writing that masterpiece, or any number of other useful, enlightening, and enriching things I could be doing rather than scrolling through statuses and being suckered into debates.
So I decided to move all those attention-demanding apps to a less convenient location on my apps lists (in a folder on the last screen) and to disable notifications. This was working okay, but Google sticks their notifications at the top of nearly all their properties, including search and Gmail. After some searching, I found a Chrome extension that will hide G+ notifications in the Google bar. Huzzah for Chrome extensions!
So now I am happy to say that I can move though most of the day without being drawn into idle wastes of time, and I don’t miss it. I just check it once, maybe twice a day (because I do like to stay in touch). I don’t want to cut myself off from my digital friends entirely, but I definitely needed a better balance.
I recommend this approach if you find yourself in the same boat. It’s nice having that time back. We only have so much of it, ya know.