Blog: Unavailable


This age of always on Internet connection means we are often always reachable. Notifications seem to have become a major feature of our lives. A phone call, a message, social media, random apps… there’s a notification for that. Digitally, we always seem to in demand. That can be exhausting and time consuming.

It happens in work and in our private lives. Constant work emails or messages can be a huge distraction, and often they all are marked urgent. Though I will give credit to the one person who tried the label “top urgent” to get my attention, that one went to the very bottom of my list.

In our private lives there’s people who get in touch socially. There can be the tempting to drop everything you are doing and reply immediately. That is of course your prerogative, but it’s never a requirement.

You don’t always have to make yourself available.

I’ve been trying at work to triage every contact I receive. This includes instant messages. I check who it is from, do I need to reply immediately? Most of the time the answer is no. I often find I can prioritise work simply by seeing who the contact is from.

When it comes to my personal phone, I have carefully set my notifications. Most apps are blocked from sending me notifications, and I use focus mode to set periods of time where certain apps are blocked completely. For me, sound settings are really helpful. For those few apps I allow to send me notifications, certain people who I would more likely interact with have their own sound. This let’s me know who has made contact without actually stopping what I am doing. If I get a contact using the generic sound I have set on my device, I know it can always wait.

I appreciate for some, sounds from devices such as phones or tablets can be stress inducing, so this approach isn’t for everyone. For me, stricter controls over notifications and the use of sound can really help with control of anxiety.

I choose not to be always digitally available. I turn my phone off at night. When I am in the gym, I use an old phone with no sim card or connection to listen to music or audio books. I’ve created personal boundaries as to when I choose to be available.

This specific approach works for me and my lifestyle. It won’t work for everyone l, but it helps me manage the expectations of others. There is only so many ours in the day, and I personally like to have some of those hours to myself. And at other times, I’ve got a busy job and need to get stuff done.

It’s worth sending a little time and effort setting these boundaries to work for you. Find a solution that works for you.

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