Posted on

Making changes

I got my first mobile phone in 1999 (I think). I got an iPod in 2003 (wedding money, I think my wife bought some pans and an iron or something).

(Photo from

I distinctly remember missing a work call on one device because I was listening to music on the other and thinking “if only”.

In 2007 I joined Twitter and got an iPhone (I’m an Apple fanboi). Twitter was amazing back then – talk to strangers, stay connected. Over the next few years, my music was interrupted by calls, replies, breaking news, notifications and everything else.

A couple of years ago I saw the LightPhone – a phone designed for you not to use it. No notifications, no feeds, very pretty but simple design. And I thought it was a great idea.

So now I’m doing my own version of that.

I’ve switched off most notifications and I don’t carry my phone with me much. I can receive calls, send messages and listen to music and books on my Apple Watch (fanboi, remember?). But not much else.

And I can feel the difference. That urge to read any old crap because I’ve got 30 seconds to fill is still there but I’m aware of it and use that time to stay where I am instead.

Because you don’t have to keep doing things the same way you’ve always done them.

So what small change should you be making? And what’s stopping you?

Posted on

Why “jumping on a call” is not always the best thing

Moan time. Or maybe “alternative way of looking at the same thing” time.

You often hear people saying “why not just pick up the phone?”. “I like to get on a call with them”. “What’s wrong with speaking with them?”

I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it.

It’s an interruption.

When I’m deep in work, an interruption of 30 seconds can knock me off my stride for 30 minutes or more. It takes time for me to get back to where I was, for me to straighten my head out again. I need to focus and to concentrate and that focus is easily lost.

But my work is mission-critical for some of my clients. So I need to keep my phone on just in case they ring me with an urgent problem (and they have multiple offices and I don’t know all their numbers).

In that case, I want to be interrupted, because it’s costing them money.

But for someone I don’t really know trying to figure out whether they can sell me something I probably don’t want …

Your call is costing me money. Because I’m losing a significant amount of productive time.

That’s why I don’t want you looking up my number and just “jumping on a call with me”.

Posted on

How to deal with notifications on your phone

How to manage notifications on your phone, so it interrupts you less – allowing you to focus on the task at hand.

This is for iPhone; the same is possible with Android but I don’t have one to hand to look at the relevant settings.

On your iPhone go to Settings/Notifications. For each app, ask yourself these questions:

1) Do I need to know this right away?

2) Do I need to be interrupted to be told this?

If the answer to 1) is NO then toggle “Allow Notifications” to off. The app will still work but it won’t notify you at all; just open the app whenever you want to find the latest information.

If the answer to 2) is NO then toggle “Badges” to on, “Sounds” to off and make sure none of “Lock Screen”, “Notification Centre” and “Banners” are switched on. The app will display a red badge when it has something to tell you but you will only know about it when you unlock your phone and look at your home screen.

If the answer to 2) is YES then toggle “Sounds” and “Badges” to on and make sure the three display settings are switched on. The app will buzz, play a sound and show you a banner message when the app has important information for you. And it will show you a badge.

The last one is the default setting but it’s also the most intrusive. Switch it off for a quieter life.