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For years we’ve heard a lot about ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) in children. More recently, we’ve been hearing more about Adult ADD. For these types of ADD, there are medications, treatments and medical diagnoses. We have an understanding of this disorder – and even a sympathy for those who suffer from it.

I have never been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder – not as a child, nor as an adult. Regardless, I have suffered from a much more subtle – and albeit acceptable – form of ADD. This disorder goes undiagnosed in boardrooms, staff meetings and coffee shops all over the world.

While this disorder shares an acronym and is a means by which to describe why we can’t seem to focus on the present moment, it is fully self-curable – and I’m living proof. That’s right, I cured my ADD (Apple/Android Distraction Disorder) – and you can too!

Honesty check: How many times have you checked your phone since you started reading this? If you’re reading this on your phone, how many times have you checked notifications that popped up since you started reading?

I won’t call you out, but I’m guessing that, if you’re like most people, you’ve checked your phone at least once – or you’ve been distracted by email, texts, phone calls, social media notifications, etc.

I’m not going to shock anyone by stating the obvious – we live in a highly connected society that prizes instant gratification. After all, who wants to wait? But, if we’re going to wait, we might as well check our phones to seek what we might otherwise be missing out on.

Hey, have you read the latest article on… Sorry, I’m in the middle of a conversation with you. How rude of me to get sidetracked by my… OOOH! I just got my bazillionth like on the selfie I posted this morning!

Oh, wait. I said I cured my ADD (in my case Apple Distraction Disorder) – and I did. I was just making a point. And that point is, I’m having a conversation with you, and you are the most important person in the world to me at this moment. After all, you made the decision to give me your most valuable possession – your time. The minutes you’ve already invested in reading this article are gone, and you’ll never get them back.  The very least I can do is to respect your time by giving you my undivided attention (and hopefully some valuable takeaways).

Let’s delve into what Apple/Android Distraction Disorder looks like.

In my Apple iPhone’s Notifications center, there are 51 apps that request my permission to notify me in various ways – banners, alerts, badges, sounds, in the notification center, while the screen is locked… YIKES!

Most of these apps give me the option to be notified in several ways at once. How nice. I can hear a noise, have my phone vibrate, get a badge on the app with a number letting me know I have umpteen notifications, while I get an alert letting me know that my “friend” has just posted another cat video, or that someone I’ve never heard of has decided to “follow” me.  

Fifty-one apps – hundreds of possibilities for distraction. (Probably not a winning marketing slogan, but true nonetheless.)

“So, what do we do about it?” You might ask.

I’m glad you asked. But, are you ready for the answer?

Are you sure you’re ready? The solution is simple, but not necessarily easy.

Brace yourself. Here’s the cure to ADD:

Turn. Off. The. Notifications.

 

I paused a little longer there because I couldn’t tell if you were laughing at my ridiculous suggestion or shrieking in terror at the thought of not being immediately informed about, well, everything.

It has been about three weeks since I turned off most of my notifications, and I’ll never go back to having them on. Never. And, yes, I did say “most of my notifications”, not all of them. There are some things that I want immediate notification of – a text or call from my wife, for example; or an alert that I’m due for an appointment. We have these devices for a reason, of course.

Here are the apps and types of notifications I allow for each:

  • Calendar (Badges, Sounds, Alerts)
  • FaceTime (Badges, Sounds, Alerts)
  • Google Maps (Badges, Banners)
  • Google Voice (Badges, Sounds, Alerts)
  • LastPass (Badges, Sounds, Alerts) – Truth be told, I’m not sure why a password app would need to notify me of anything, but I’ll keep it turned on just to find out.
  • Maps (Banners)
  • Messages (Badges, Sounds, Alerts)
  • [Facebook] Messenger (Badges, Sounds, Alerts) – This is my Mom’s preferred contact method.
  • Phone (Badges, Sounds, Alerts) – Of course.
  • Reminders (Badges, Sounds, Alerts) – Wouldn’t do much good if it couldn’t remind me.
  • Skype (Badges, Sounds, Alerts)
  • Slack (Badges)

That’s 12 out of a possible 51, and only 13% of the apps on my phone that can distract me while I’m doing other things. Not to say that I can’t become distracted by reading my Twitter feed during a conference call. (Hey, I’m only human.) However, I’ve found that it’s easier to be present when I’m meeting with a client, or an employee and my phone is not beeping and buzzing for something that’s not really all that important.

You’ll notice that Mail is not in my list of apps that I allow to bother me. That is probably THE most important exclusion of them all. Email is the heart of my business and can be a constant distraction, if it’s allowed to be.

That’s right. I must allow email to distract me. It’s my choice. I’ve even turned off email notifications on my desktop – but I use a PC and that doesn’t fit with my ADD theme, so I’ll save that for a different post.

Each of us have different needs. Maybe your business is on Twitter, so you need to know when someone follows you or retweets your stuff. Maybe you need to know when news is breaking so you can inform your audience. But, I am certain that you do not need to be notified by every possible app on your device – yes, I’m talking to you Mr. Can’t-put-down-my-iPad-while-we’re-talking (i.e. it doesn’t have to be a phone, tablets cause ADD too).

In conclusion, Apple/Android Distraction Disorder is real, and it is killing our productivity. But there is hope, and that hope is closer than you realize. In fact, the only one who can help you take back your productivity is the person in your selfie. So, pick up your phone, open your Notification options and choose which ones are the most important. The people in your life (you know, those living, breathing human beings around you) will thank you, and you’ll be thankful for having more attention to devote to them.

 

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