[Tech & No Stress] Are you master or slave to technology?


Technology is breaking down our limits of time and space. An endless flow of information multiplies the complexity of our daily life. So how can we transform overwhelm into a source of something positive? How can we be masters rather than slaves to technology?


No. 1 hack for less stress and more focus

Turn off all notifications! This is by far the simplest and most effective hack to almost instantaneously reduce stress levels and increase our ability to focus.

Why? Because every notification or call triggers a reaction of the sympathetic nervous system. That is the part in charge of our action/reaction, in other words, the part that scrutinizes the environment permanently looking for a threat and gives us a shot of adrenaline so react as quickly as possible, just in case. Then, it takes between 5 and 30 minutes to get back to the starting point, when you were calm enough to really focus on what you were doing. So the multiplication of notifications keeps us from that state of calm. Add to that the cost of interruption, which refers to the few tenths of a second (and the additional energy) the brain needs to switch from one task to another, resulting in a cumulation of fatigue and lost time.

According to a study by the University of California Irvine, after an interruption, it takes an average of 25 minutes to fully focus on the previously undertaken task, and interruptions reduce our productivity by 20%.

So, I repeat, turn off the notifications!

On average, every day we use 7 connected devices and 9 apps—and 30 every month. We look at our phones at least 28 times a day—that's 10,000 times a year! According to an Opinion Way survey, 45% of people value digital tools for the positive impact they have on work in general, yet 70% feel that technology is providing too much information, causing fatigue, and leading to feelings of overwhelm, decreased concentration, and even disorientation.

Master or slave?

Do any of the following sound familiar?

  • “I have no idea what to do next.” (eyes wide, arms spread in front of you, palms up)

  • At any request from a loved one, friend, or colleague: “I’m too busy.” or “I don’t have the time.”

  • When a notification pops up: “I’ve got to answer this right now.”

  • At one o’clock in the morning: “Yikes, I forgot to send and email to…”

  • “Where is my phone?!?” (with a sharp rise in your voice driven by panic)

Or do you recognize yourself in the following?

  • “Maybe it is time I turned my phone back on.”

  • “I'll answer that [phone call/text message/email] tomorrow.”

  • “I have unsubscribed from all unnecessary newsletters..”

  • “I no longer use ‘reply to all’ and I ask others the same.”

  • “I ask , ‘Is this really useful to me?’”

The goal here is not to make you feel guilty, nor to congratulate you, but rather to inspire you to look at your use of technology from a different perspective. I find myself in both categories.

Whatever category you fall into, and however you use your devices, it is undeniable that technology impacts both stress and productivity—for good and bad. We are not always prey to information overload and cognitive saturation that leaves less brain power available for actual thinking. And sometimes we are.

It helps to keep in mind that awareness is the first step to being masters and not slaves to our modern times—aware of how you use your devices, knowingly setting boundaries, and making conscious choices based on how and when they are actually useful to you.

Anne Tragerfocus hacks