My #1 Productivity & Life Balance Improvement From 2016

It’s rare that I make a productivity change that I would call life changing, but there’s one quick and simple change that I made last year that I think meets that criteria. When I stop to think about it, I marvel at its effectiveness.

About a year ago I wrote about how I set up Gmail label notifications on Android as a means to disconnect. Essentially, anytime there’s an urgent work issue that needs my attention I receive a notification on my phone. Most of them are silent notifications that just appear in the notification shade. I see them the next time I look at my phone, but I won’t get woken up or disrupted unless something major happens like the server is down.

At first thought this might sound like a bad idea, until you consider what I was doing before I had this set up: checking my phone frequently on off hours just to make sure there was nothing wrong. Almost all of the time nothing was wrong, but often times I’d get sucked back into something else when I saw an email that wasn’t at all urgent. It made it harder to mentally step away from work at night and on the weekends. Now, I almost never check email on my phone. If something goes wrong, I know I’ll be alerted. My phone is doing the work for me.

The accompanying peace of mind has been priceless. I’ve been able to take longer stretches away from work with the confidence that all of the critical technology that powers our business is running smoothly.

2 comments on My #1 Productivity & Life Balance Improvement From 2016

  1. Rob says:

    It’s the getting sucked into stuff and seeing things you wish you hadn’t that is the real time killer, I find. I also find that when I’m trying to relax, even if something only take a few minutes of my actual time, it’s now on my mind and can suck enjoyment out of what I was doing.

    I think your system is good and I do something similar – it’s fine as long as the notification system itself doesn’t break!

    By the way, are you still with Liquidweb? I’ve been with WiredTree for a few years and I got an email yesterday that they’d been bought by Liquidweb!

    • Adam McFarland says:

      I think your system is good and I do something similar – it’s fine as long as the notification system itself doesn’t break!

      Haha yes, good point Rob. It does rely on quite a few things when you think about it. Gmail working, my filters being correct, the notification emails coming in the same format, and of course my phone being connected.

      By the way, are you still with Liquidweb?

      Yea, we’ve overall been really happy. The uptime has been fantastic, no real outages that I can recall in almost a decade. Support is really good too, the few minor-ish problems I’ve had they’ve been very responsive rectifying. I can’t speak to how well they’ll transition you, but in general they’re a great company.

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