Over the past month as I’ve appeared at the ICABA Business Forum and the Attorney Breakfast Club of Miami-Dade, a frequent conversation is how stressed out people feel by their digital lives. Between email, text messages, Facebook, Twitter and a whole host of things going pop, whiz and bang, folks have expressed how genuinely overwhelmed they are by all the technologies which are supposed to make their lives easier.
While I cannot profess to mastering the fine art of being in absolute control of my digital ‘ball and chain’, there are a few things that all of us can do to reduce the stress created by the expectations of our always-on, instant gratification society.
Disable Notifications and Alerts
While knowing about everything almost instantly seems appealing, it really does contribute to your stress level. Eech time your phone goes beep, for a text message, email or notification you become no better than Pavlov’s dog. Conditioned by these alerts, our knee jerk reaction to check and respond to everything is actually quite distracting and unproductive. In fact, multitasking is overrated, so it’s best to keep the number of tangential activities to a minimum. By disabling the notifications and alerts, you’ll find yourself more in control of your time and less affected by every new demand for your attention. It’s worked for me, so may the force be with you also.
Check Email Less Frequently
I have a few clients who check and respond to e-mail twice a day. While at times I find it quite annoying that I have to wait for a response, I quietly envy how in control that person must be of their time and more importantly their mental bandwidth. I haven’t yet mustered the courage to do this, considering that immediacy of response is a big part of my business, but I think it’s a great way to regain control. To be successful with this strategy, you must 1) set expectations with your clients on e-mail communication, 2) setup an auto-responder that informs senders of your protocol, and 3) stick to it.
Streamline Your Mobile Communication with Google Voice
If you are a solopreneur or started as one, it’s very likely you may have given out your cellphone number to everyone who would take it. Now you’ve grown, and the sheer volume of incoming calls is a bit too much to manage. A tactic that we’ve been suggesting to our clients is to get a new number from your cellphone provider and have your old cellphone number ported to Google Voice. With Google Voice you can control where and when your old number can ring to (if at all). With the use of a Google Voice application on must major mobile platforms, you’ll be able to dial out from your old number and your clients will be none the wiser. It’s a great way to permanently park your pesky number in the cloud, and regain control of your voice communication workflow.
Get Off the Grid
Even with these coping mechanisms, nothing is better than disconnecting entirely from what we IT folks like to call the ‘grid’. Take some time off, take a trip out the country, go hiking, or go relax on a beach somewhere. Whatever you do, turn off the gadgets and leave them behind if possible. We all need to disconnect from time to time, life is too short to do otherwise.
Invizio recently sponsored and presented at the ICABA Business Forum held at Nova Southeastern University on April 18th. Our Managing Partner, Kevin V. Michael (@kevinvmichael) appeared alongside Danny Rodriguez (@DannyUDTCorp) in a workshop entitled “Using Technology to Gain A Competitive Advantage”. Presenting on high-level strategies for corporate executives to equip their organizations to succeed and utilize technology as a strategic edge, Kevin. The presentation from the forum has been posted below or can be accessed by visiting Invizio’s Slideshare profile.
Every so often I like to take some time to give my digital life some much needed attention, and really get things in order. We tend to do this with our homes and cars; where we take one weekend and change the window curtains, and bang out those mats. So in that spirit lets examine some things you can do to get you computer and your digital life, refreshed.
1. Go though that Inbox
We all get more e-mail that we can handle and way more than we actually care about, so it’s a good idea to go through your inbox and delete all the junk that you know you’ll never read and file those e-mails you need to keep. Now would also be a good time to create some rules/filters so that your e-mail application (Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, Outlook) can automatically do most of this organizing for you on an ongoing basis.
2. Clean up that Desktop
I know not everyone puts every file they’ve ever encountered on their desktop, but we all have that folder where we throw everything; for some people it’s the Desktop (for me it’s my Downloads folder) where there’s an icon for every program ever installed and every file ever downloaded. Clean it up. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll admit that you only need a handful of the files you’ve accumulated either because you’ve gotten whatever you needed from them or you can easily get them again if you needed to. You’ll enjoy the cleanliness of that Desktop and you’ll spend far less time searching for your Excel icon.
3. Uninstall those programs
Even I’m guilty of accumulating applications that I hardly ever use; I may have needed a utility at one time or another and never used it again, 6 months later I still have it installed. Go to your Control Panel, select Add/Remove Programs (Windows XP) or Programs and Features (Windows Vista/7) and go through the list of programs you have installed and uninstall those programs you know you no longer use. CAUTION: If you don’t recognize a program do not uninstall it (it may be something you or your system needs).
4. Update, Update, Update
We should be doing this all year round but there are some updates that just require more work than others. Make sure that those utilities you use frequently are at their latest version. Some more popular applications include: Adobe Acrobat Reader, iTunes, QuickBooks, and of course your system updates for Microsoft Windows. This will ensure that you have the latest security patches and the latest features.