Introducing 2015 – The Year of Challenges

It’s been a long time and shouldn’t have left you.

But you know how it is when you are trying to build a new habit into your life (like blogging on a semi-regular basis) and it’s a bit (a lot) more difficult than you thought it would be.

Speaking of which, how are those New Year’s Resolutions going?

Like you, I have a lot of things I want to achieve this year. However, I didn’t want to do the repeat the tired routine of setting a grandiose challenge for the year, but abandoning it after a couple of months.

This year, I am trying something new: setting myself a series of short challenges with the aim of changing my habits, thus putting myself in a better position to achieve what I want to achieve.

There isn’t much of a plan to these challenges, not yet anyway. I’m open to suggestions, so if you have one for me, tweet me or drop me an email.

This week’s challenge was relatively straight-forward, something to get me going productivity wise.

The Challenge: Remove all notifications from my personal technology


I ALWAYS have my phone or iPad in my hands and I’m constantly preeing on social media. (Definition: Pree: To look observe your social platform(s) of choice and observe the behaviour of those unsuspecting people you come across).

I’m shamelessly known among my closer friends for seeing everything on Twitter. I mean EVERYTHING


Serious note though: If I’m going to achieve my goals this year and beyond, I will need to manufacture more work out of the 24 hours of the day we are given than I did in 2014. Reducing the amount of time spent texting and chatting would be a great start.

The rules

  • Notifications on my smartphone, tablet, home laptop and work laptop had to be switched off at all times from Monday 5th through to Sunday 11th January
    • Just so we are clear, this meant no Whatsapp, text/iMessage, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn, email and NBA Game Time notifications, as well as all of the other apps that run on my devices.
    • Phone calls were allowed – I couldn’t think of a way to regulate it, while keeping myself available for important phone calls.
  • There was no limit for checking my phone manually – but obviously I wasn’t trying to stay on my phone all the time.

What happened?

You know what? It was less of a challenge than I thought it was, bearing in mind I always have my phone in my hand. Here are some of the things I noticed/learned:

  1. As I switched off all of my notifications on Sunday night, I counted all of the different apps that could notify me of something it deemed worthwhile. Across all of my devices, there were 60+ apps that were given the permission to distract me.
  2. It feels good to not have any numbers in red circles on my home screen.
  3. Sunday night I actually went to bed anxious – As embarrassing as it is, I was generally concerned that I would be missing out on something, and it legit kept me up for a period of time.
  4. Waking up on Monday morning and not seeing a bunch of notifications on my phone was refreshing. I also managed to cook a full English for breakfast and got to work 30 mins early because I was spent less time being distracted on my phone or iPad.
  5. When I finally did check my phone, while heading to work, the things I was so worried about missing didn’t suffer because I had not checked them immediately.
  6. Monday was my most productive day in a long time. The long Christmas break probably played some part in this – but not being distracted by all the notifications was definitely a key factor. This wasn’t just at work – it was also at home where I spent the majority of the evening working as well.
  7. Because I wasn’t being notified about anything, I was naturally checking my phone a lot less and this stayed consistent throughout the week. Which was great because I only had 100mb left of data and I made it last for 5 days. 🙂
  8. As of when I write this: (Sunday afternoon) I am now totally comfortable with my phone not vibrating all of the time.

Final thoughts 

I think I will be sticking with a (mostly) zero notification policy going forward. I will add a few notifications back onto my devices, but my social and chat apps will be staying silent. I didn’t realise how much my life revolved around me being instantly contactable and thus at the mercy of other people’s demands on my time.

The time we have to be productive is limited and should be guarded as much as possible – especially if you have plans to do things beyond your 9-5. Reducing the amount of time I spend on my phone by switching off my notifications has given me a lot of that time back.

Next week’s challenge: Trying to get at least 7 hours sleep every night.


What have I been reading this week:

  • Hollywood and Vine – How does Hollywood and big money brand look at Youtube celebrities and Vine artists like King Bach? And is online video as big as people seem to think it is?
  • Splish Splash – A great profile on the Golden State Warriors star back court of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.
  • The Data Genius Behind BuzzFeed’s Success – If you have 30 mins to listen to me ramble on about digital media and publishing and how it is changing, you will definitely hear me mention Buzzfeed. Their approach and use of data is key and something digital publishers should aspire to.

Reason #452 why basketball is the best: This should be illegal


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