A life without notifications

It feels like yesterday that I was opening the box to my first BlackBerry. That’s right, a BlackBerry.

I remember thinking how cool it was, all those keys. I could connect to my email. BlackBerry Messenger!

I used to get email notifications. Every time a new email came in I would see it. That didn’t last for very long. I can’t even imagine operating like that today given the amount of emails both work and personal that come through with only a very small fraction of them being relevant.

Nowadays every application you have on your phone requests to send you notifications. In other words these applications are begging you to come back and use them.

I decided two weeks ago to get rid off all notifications on my phone with the exception of two things:

  1. If my wife calls or messages, I’m notified.
  2. I use an app at the gym it sends a notification when my rest timer is up (this is actually useful).

That’s it, I receive no other notifications (this includes lock screen, notification centre, banners, badges, sounds, etc).

I can tell you this few weeks have been interesting. I’ve been more focussed with my work. I check and respond to messages way less frequently. I feel more in control of my life. I feel happier.

Is lazy is efficient?

“Lazy is efficient.” I can still remember my junior high Health Studies teacher, Mr. Taylor, saying this.

Later in high school I remember never cleaning up after myself. There were dishes littered in the downstairs sitting area outside of my bedroom. My Mom would ask my why I couldn’t clean them up. “Lazy is efficient” I would reply. I’m sure that infuriated her. Quite often being lazy shifts your burden onto someone else.

If I wanted to be efficient, I would have simply gathered everything up at the end of each day and deposited them into the dishwasher. Or maybe I simply wouldn’t have ventured downstairs with any sort of tableware. Or maybe I would have hired someone to do it for me (unfortunately, that wasn’t an option when I was 17). The options are plenty, the result the same – job done.

18 years later I’ve decided I don’t agree with Mr. Taylor. Lazy is not efficient. Efficient is efficient.

You can’t lie down here

If you live in Calgary, and have been to the new Watermark Tower (707 5th Avenue), you might recognize these:

Last week I decided to lie down and attempt my version of a “meditation” (guided using Insight Timer). After about 5 minutes I couldn’t fight the feeling that someone was standing over me, watching. I opened my eyes and confirmed my fear, there was a building security guard standing there staring down at me.

“You can’t lie down here!”

Can’t lie down here? I was confused, why wouldn’t I be able to lie down on what to me looks like a bed. He was unable to provide me with any sort of answer, just simply repeated “you can’t lie down here.”

Thinking back now I understand this is likely a rule to prevent people who are facing homelessness from utilizing the building for a rest.

Design is important. If you don’t want people to lie down in your building, then it’s probably a bad idea to put out beds.

This is not easy

In my first post titled “Getting started” I wrote about how I will be posting daily for the next year. I’m still committed to doing that, but wanted to update – this is not easy!

The first few posts I had bottled up in my brain, they were ready to be written about. But sitting here on (Canadian) Thanksgiving and I’m at a bit of a loss. I have been under the weather for the better part of this week which has limited my ability to “get out and notice things”. But if I’m honest with myself that’s just a made up excuse.

What I really think is that this commitment is going to take at least 90 days to really start feeling more natural. 84 more days to go.

A quick thought on Thanksgiving, being thankful and gratitude. I’ve completed a gratitude journal for well over 3 years now (writing what I’m grateful for everyday). I think we as humans typically overlook the small things to be grateful for. Imagine if you had a few hours to think of everything you were grateful for and if you didn’t acknowledge something then after the few hours it wouldn’t exist (not disappear, it would cease to exist). Sure changes the perspective on what to be grateful for, doesn’t it?

Happy Thanksgiving.

When did Christmas start showing up in October?

Maybe I just don’t get out enough to notice. I went shopping yesterday and saw that there was already Christmas items for sale.

We aren’t even half-way through October.

We still have (Canadian) Thanksgiving, Halloween (cringe) and all of November.

I understand we live in a society that is driven by consumerism but this still feels too soon.

Meal planning has changed my life

Two weeks ago my family and I decided to start meal planning. Prepping everything for the week, in advanced. Lunches are portioned out and ready to go. Dinners are cooked (or ready to be cooked) and ready for the entire week. Breakfasts for us are usually pretty simple, no planning needed.

There is still a bit of a learning curve to optimize the whole plan/prep portion part of the week. But I believe in the next 2-3 weeks we will have a routine down and things will go much smoother.

What surprised me the most was I thought I was going to be most happy by simply saving time. In fact, the biggest benefit I’ve found so far is simply not having to think about what to eat. It’s already planned, one less decision to make.

Tell me something boring about yourself

I came across this somewhere on the internet about a month ago. I’m pretty sure it was on Twitter but I’m unable to find the source to credit (sorry!). 

The theory is that when we are engaging with new people (networking event, etc) or perhaps catching up with an old friend, some of the regular questions you might ask is “tell me something interesting about yourself?” Or the classic “so, what do you do?” Or “what are you up to, nowadays?”

By default these questions put the responder in a position where they might feel like they have to prove something or be impressive. It can cause this weird social anxiety (think 25 year high school reunion where there is this invisible pressure to “be successful”, whatever that is).

My new go to icebreaker is “tell me something boring about yourself”. First of all, when you pose the question most people laugh because they have never heard it before. Secondly, the answers can actually be pretty surprising. At the end of the day it’s really the little boring things that make up who we are. 

Hi, I’m Bryan. I had oatmeal for breakfast today. 

Say hello

I don’t know when I started to make this a habit. But whenever I run into someone that I know from my past I always make it a point to say hello. It can be a chance run in at the mall, an airport, park, anywhere. If I recognize someone I say hello, no matter what.

The most interesting part of this habit is that I’ve had to train myself to do it. There is usually an initial hesitation, especially if I was never really close with this person, or its been a long time. That moment when you want to duck out of sight, hide somewhere. But it’s short and micro. Pushing through it is rewarding.

Maybe there is a reason for the chance meeting, maybe not. Either way, say hello.

Getting started

I’ve decided to start a blog. Not only that, I’ve decided to commit to posting daily for the next year. That’s right, I’m going to post every day until October 9, 2020.

Why did I decide to do this? I’ve come across the suggestion a few times in the past. Most recently, I listened to The Tim Ferris Show with Seth Godin which peaked my interest again. As I pondered wether or not I should commit to a daily blog practice I found that I started to notice things. I was becoming more present in my daily life. This appealed to me as mindfulness is something I’ve been working on over the past few years.

Further reading on Seth’s Blog helped me realize a few additional points.

First, it doesn’t matter if anyone reads this! My daily blogging practice is for me, to bring clarity to my thinking and help me become more present as I move through my day. If I’m able to provide value to anyone reading this it is an added bonus.

Second, in order to commit to the habit Seth points out that it takes around 200 posts for people to uniformly report that they were happy with their decision. Since I want to make sure I hit this threshold for myself, I’ve committed to one full year of writing.

Well. Let’s see what happens.