The other day on my way home from work, I observed a cat walking beside a house. As he rounded the corner, he froze, overwhelmed by the sight of dozens of pigeons pecking the ground right in front of him. He stood there, indecisive, as if he had no ability to act with so many decisions before him.
I feel like that cat sometimes as I survey the list of things I need to accomplish. One reason our lives are so busy is that we have more information available to us than people have ever had before, and most of that information is vying for our immediate attention. I would like to suggest a couple of New Year’s resolutions that you can make to help you accomplish the things that are really important this coming year, and I’ll throw in some ideas about how to use technology to make it easier.
Resolve to turn off distractions that can wait.
How much do you think you would get done if your doorbell rang every ten minutes with someone bringing a message to you? The first person might have a sale ad from the grocery store, the second an ad for the shoe store. A family member might drop off some pictures. Then the mailman might bring a long letter from another family member. Hopefully, you’re thinking, “That’s ridiculous! I’d never accomplish anything!” But with an email account or two on your phone and a social media app sending you notifications, you have essentially the same problem. The good news is that you can turn them off. You can find instructions on how to do this at the bottom of this article. Once you’ve turned off notifications, check your email or social media at a designated time. If your job involves a lot of email communication, maybe that’s once an hour. Many of us could probably check only once or twice a day without anyone noticing a delay. The less you can check it, the fewer distractions to keep you from accomplishing what’s important.
Resolve to do the most important things first.
It’s easy to want to start with things that you don’t think will take much time, but judging how much time a task will take is difficult. Instead, do the most important things first so that they get done. Something that can help with this is making a master list of things you need to do. When you think of something to do, put it on your master list; but keep a separate list for your daily plan. Your daily list can include items from your master list or new items that you really must do that day. When planning for each day, be sure to take a few minutes to prioritize the old and new items on your list so that the most important items are listed first. If you can easily see the most important items you need to do, you’ll be less likely to forget about them.
Many apps available for smartphones, tablets, and computers will allow you to do this easily. Here are a few simple options: On an iPhone® or iPad®, you can use the Reminders app that comes on the device to make lists and sort them. On an Android™ device, you can use the Google Keep™ notes service to make lists that are easy to sort. Whatever you decide to use, even if it’s pen and paper, remember that a few minutes of planning can save hours, and that it’s best to do what’s most important first. (Don’t forget that what is high priority can change based on time; for example, around suppertime preparing food becomes pretty important.)
God has given each of us the same number of hours in each day. He has also called us to wisely use that time to be effective in each role that we have at home, work, church, and other places. Let’s use the time and tools He has given us to glorify Him in 2015!
Instructions for disabling notifications
On an iPhone or iPad, go to Settings, and choose Notifications. You can select the app you want to turn off notifications for and then adjust settings as desired.
On an Android phone or tablet, when the notification for the app you want to turn off shows up in your notifications, press and hold on that notification. App info should pop up. Select that; then uncheck Show notifications.
iPhone and iPad are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.
Android and Google Keep are trademarks of Google Inc.
What resolutions are you planning to make this year? Any technology resolutions?
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Andrew enjoys helping others use technology in a way that glorifies God. He leads the website team at BJU Press and looks for new ways to improve user-experience online. He and his wife help with the children’s ministries at their church. Along with their three sons, they like to read together about others’ adventures and then go out and have their own.