Keep Work-Related Apps Off Your Phone

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Does your phone continue to show you work-related email or Slack notifications even after your workday is over? Do you feel compelled to open those apps when you see the notifications, just to make sure you haven’t missed anything important—and then do you feel compelled to respond right away, even if the message can wait until the next day?

I’ve tried to ward off that kind of behaviour by removing all push notifications from my phone. If I want to know whether someone has sent me an email, I have to make the active decision to open my email app and check.

But I could take it one step further—and so could you.

If you have the kind of job where you aren’t required to be “on call,” as it were, you could make it easier to disconnect at the end of the workday by deleting any work-related apps that currently run on your phone.

This idea comes from Front co-founder Mathilde Collin, who recently shared her work-life balance advice with Inc.:

First, she removed all work-related apps from her phone. When she’s outside the office—her typical work schedule is 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.—she has to pull out her laptop to get any work done. Among other advantages, that decreases the chances of a mobile notification pulling her into a work-related rabbit hole. The tactic actually inspired a companywide health benefit: All Front employees who average less than two hours per day on their phone (shown through screen-time tracking apps) get $US200 ($300) each month, no strings attached. (Collin uses her money on another de-stressing tool: massages.)

I know this is easier said than done, in part because many of our apps pair both work and personal information (my Gmail app collects both work and personal email, for example, and Slack tracks conversations with coworkers alongside conversations with friends).

It’s also easier said than done because there are certain times when being able to connect to work via your phone is extremely useful, whether you’re powering through email while you wait for a dental appointment or pinging Slack to let everyone know you’ll be a little late because your train was delayed.

So you might want to consider alternate options, such as... well, if you really wanted to, you could delete every work-related app at the end of each workday and reinstall them again the next morning.

Or, if that sounds just a bit too ridiculous to be feasible, you could turn off or snooze all work-related push notifications (either permanently or at the end of each day, depending on your responsibilities) and put all of your work-related apps on the second screen of your phone.

That way, you’ll never think “I should check Slack” just because you unlocked your phone to do something else and the Slack icon made you wonder if you should check it. You’ll have to actively choose to swipe over to the next screen, actively choose to open the Slack app, and actively choose to check your work channels for new messages.

And with your work-related apps tucked out of sight and out of mind, it might be a lot easier for you to make other choices after work instead.


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