Category: Reflections

Managing Phone Notifications

Managing Phone Notifications

Over the past few months, you may have noticed that a lot of my posts have focused on different ways that you can use technology to save time and work more productively. As a father of two little kids, my time has quickly become one area of my life that I protect. Making sure I am around for their activities and to see them grow up is something that I feel is super important for both them and my wife and me.

Today I wanted to share some thoughts about an area that I still struggle with but feel like I am getting better at.

A few years ago I read Nir Eyal’s book Hooked. The book is about how to positively build habit-building products. In the book, Eyal shares that in order to build a habit-building product you need to have some sort of internal or external triggers.

One of the worst external triggers we face is the dreaded phone notification. Something like a push notification or red dot can be extremely distracting and take us out of our current situation. I know myself I have found myself stop mid-conversation with someone to check my phone because I got a notification.

A few years ago I went through all of my notifications and tried to cut out the ones that I felt were not really needed. One of the first to go was email notifications, then Facebook (ultimately I purged the entire app from my phone), and then anything else I felt was causing me to get distracted. While this helped a lot I still had a hard time sometimes choosing which notifications to turn off.

A few months ago Nir Eyal published a new book about being indistractable. Since I enjoyed Hooked so much I had to pick this book up. In the book Eyal shares about how to master your internal triggers, make time for important work, and how to hack back external triggers.

In the introduction to the section on hacking back external triggers Eyal shares a great test, you can use to determine if you should mute a notification.

Is the trigger serving me or am I serving it?

Indistractable by Nir Eyal

If you are not sure if you should turn off a notification ask yourself is the trigger serving you or are you serving it? In the book Eyal points out that not all notifications are bad. Notifications that remind us about healthy habits (Apple Watch’s stand notification, meditation reminders, food logs, etc.) can be super helpful for building good habits or staying on track to meeting a goal. Notifications about what a celebrity recently did or who liked your picture are distractions and keep you from meeting your goals.

A notification is a great tool. When used correctly they can inform us about important things. When used incorrectly they can become distractions that keep us from meeting our goals. If you are looking for more ideas on how to regain your focus I highly suggest checking out Indistractable.

What I’m Reading and Thinking About this Month March 2017

What I’m Reading and Thinking About this Month March 2017

What I have been thinking about:

This month I have been thinking a lot about product design and how to apply the idea of design thinking to my current role. This month I have tried to apply the lessons I learned from the books that I read to creating a 5 week PD series on differentiation, helping to rethink our teacher evaluation system, and helping implement a program at our school site. What I found interesting is that most of the advice that the books give isn’t ground breaking and sometimes seems very obvious yet people do not implement it, myself included. One of my goals this month is to share what I have learned with others in my organization so we can start building better processes, products, and experiences for our students and staff members.

Blog Posts to Checkout:

I recently learned about list.ly/ and thought that it would be worth trying out with my monthly blog posts to check out. Below is a list of the blog posts that resonated with me this past month.

My Books for the Month:

This past month I read two books on product design. The first book I read was Sprint by Braden Kowitz, Jake Knapp, and John Zeratsky. In the book the authors share their five day process for solving problems. While it would be impossible for me to be away from my school site for five straight days, there are a ton of great ideas in the book about collaborative brainstorming and decision making that I plan on using with the teachers at my site.

The second book that I read was Hooked by Nir Eyal. In the book Eyal breaks down the Hook Model that designers can use to create habit forming products. As I read this book I found myself laughing a lot because I started to realize how I had fallen for many of the techniques that Eyal presents in the book. As I was reading this book I couldn’t help but wonder how we could apply the Hook Model to professional development. Over the next few months as I create our professional development materials I am going to revisit the Hook Model and see how I can incorporate elements of it into our materials.

What I’m Reading and Thinking About this Month December 2016

What I’m Reading and Thinking About this Month December 2016

What I have been thinking about:

As the first semester drew to a close I found myself doing a lot of planning for the second semester. Below are two of my big projects that I am currently working on for the second semester and beyond. Please forgive the stream of consciousness style of writing. I am still trying to work through both of these ideas.

Differentiation and Blended Learning Professional Learning

This year my school made the switch to standards based grading which has brought to light the need for more professional learning in differentiation and blended learning practices. This past month I spent a lot of time researching the best practices about differentiation and blended learning. I also started working on a differentiated professional learning series for my teachers on differentiation. My goal is to experiment with the differentiation series and then follow it up with a differentiated series on blended learning.

Rethinking the Bell Schedule

The switch to standards based grading has also helped me see that we need to incorporate reassessment time into our daily school schedule. While in an ideal world teachers should be incorporating this time into their daily lessons, the reality is they are not due to the pressure to get through their pacing plans and hit their own personal benchmarks. This month I have looked at a lot of school schedules and created a prototype of how we can include at least 40 minutes a day for reassessment . In a perfect world this time can also be used for project based learning projects or more passion driven activities like genius hour.  I’m also thinking of modeling this after the PBIS strategy of check in check out. At my school the students start their school day with an Advisory class. By having this reassessment class at the end of the day the advisory teacher would be able to “check out” with their students.

Blog Posts to Checkout:

Time For These Seven Edu Funerals by Michael Niehoff
If you don’t have time to read the entire blog post I would encourage you to at least read the first paragraph. While I don’t agree with everything on Niehoff’s list, I’m still a fan of non digital tools and resources, I do agree with a lot of what he is saying.

Just Ask by George Couros
A simple yet effective way to push innovation in the classroom. What’s the worst thing that happens? They say no?

Top 8 Reasons Why Your Ideas Don’t Get Backed by Phil McKinney
If you enjoy this blog post I would encourage you to listen to the podcast that McKinney did on this subject. On the podcast he goes deeper into the eight reasons and offers some solid advice  for anyone who is looking to have others back their ideas.

 

My Books for the Month:

This past month I read Todd Henry’s first book The Accidental Creative. The main theme of this book is about finding your creative rhythm. In the book Henry shares some great ideas and concepts about how you can create your own creative rhythm. Two of my big take aways from the book is that I need to be more intentional with my study plan and I need to create checkpoints to help keep myself focused. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking to create structure and routines in their life that will help support their creative thinking.