How I’m managing my own psychology in 2017

My two resolutions for 2017

The Christmas and New Year period is inevitably a time for reflection. As I spent time with my family and looked forward with excitement to what 2017 will bring to Culture Amp, I sat back and thought about what I really want to achieve this year.

Right away I realized that the most important question was not “How do I eke another 10 milligrams of productivity out of the day?”

The questions I needed to address were: “How do I manage my own psychology? How do I make myself more resilient? How do I allow myself to cope with the pace of change?”

Knowing the questions gave me the chance to give myself two resolutions for 2017. They’re both simple ideas, but difficult practices to follow.

#1 — No more notifications

Like many people, I have a hardwired response when my phone emits a chime or a ping or a tweet. When I glance at my phone and see 17 unread emails, 6 messages, this or that thing that needs my attention, a clock starts ticking in my brain and I can’t relax until I’ve had a look at them.

If that’s first thing in the morning, any chance at a gentle and healthy start to the day is shot.

So I’ve turned off notifications — all of them. Now if I want to see my email, I click on the email icon. If I want to know what’s happening on a Slack channel, I log in to Slack.

I’ve also made an undertaking with myself that I will let 60 minutes pass from waking until I check email, look at Twitter or chat on Slack. I want to make sure I’m fully awake and my brain is ready to deal with whatever has arisen or needs my attention for the day.

#2 — Getting intentional with my phone

The second thing that I’m doing also relates to my smartphone addiction. My wife Greta and I have made a commitment to each other: when we are at home and especially when we are with at our kids, Jude and Caspar, we will be much more intentional with how we use our phones. If I pull the phone out of my pocket, I have to turn to one of them and tell them why I pulled it out and what I’m doing. Most importantly, when I’ve done that, I put it away.

So, I can pull it out and say, “I’m checking to see whether the Warriors have beat the Heat, okay?” Once I’ve established that they have (yes, of course they have), the phone goes back into my pocket. No checking to see if an email has come in or what’s happening on my Slack channel or in Twitterverse.

We haven’t perfected this yet as a family, but we’re much more aware of it. We’ve all been astonished at how often we mindlessly pull our phones out of our pockets and start clicking different icons to find out if somebody wants something from us or if something mildly interesting has happened.

Those two ideas, to me, are very much about being present and being intentional. Greta is both an opera singer and a psychologist, and she and I talk a lot about this concept of mindfulness and how important it is in being able to cope with the craziness that is our lives these days.

So those are two things that I’m focusing on for 2017. I’ll let you know how successful I am at keeping these resolutions throughout the year.

What are your productivity challenges for 2017?

On the same topic, I’d love to hear about your productivity challenges and resolutions for 2017. Or let me know your best hacks for dealing with your smartphone addiction in the comments below.

Didier Elzinga is a People Geek and CEO/Co-Founder of Culture Amp. You can follow Didier on Medium, Twitter or LinkedIn. This article was first published onCulture Amp insights.