Do you feel you’re getting buried by notifications? Are you tired of missing important notices or forgetting who you were responding to next?

If you’re getting overwhelmed by digital noise and need a better way to handle your notifications, this episode is for you.

In this episode of The Career Rx we’ll discuss:

  • My useful “one touch rule” for all notifications
  • The three categories I use that save time and energy
  • Some examples on how this organization system can be applied offline

Today we’re talking about how I manage notifications across many devices and even physical mail. I also include some information on an upcoming (free) Leverage and Growth Summit summit where I’ll be speaking as well as recommendations for how to clean up your inbox.

In this episode, I detail my “one touch rule” and the three categories I use for every notification I get and how it helps me keep things under control. With this technique you’ll stop wasting double the time on notifications you’ve already seen and not miss something important. You will check your email, voicemail, texts, and social media notifications much less frequently.

“I have adopted some of the best tips that I’ve heard around into a single system.” – Marjorie Stiegler

In this Episode:

[1:15] Too many notifications and no time to manage them
[2:00] Reclaiming your life with the Leverage and Growth Summit (it’s free)
[3:10] What does “control” mean to you?
[3:58] Explaining the one touch rule
[5:00] Time blocking and notification settings
[6:05] Deciding if something needs your attention
[6:23] Do this in two minutes or less.
[7:10] Implement a mindfulness snooze function (for your email)
[8:30] Using a tickler files with Sanebox
[9:10] Applying this system to snail mail
[11:00] Planning ahead on your taxes
[12:07] Turn off the backburner

Links and Resources:

The Branding Rx 18 hours of CME, mastering digital strategies for advancing your career, building your business, and growing your professional brand

Leverage and Growth Summit by Peter Kim

Sanebox – Clean Up Your Inbox



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TRANSCRIPT: Episode 56 – Tame Your Notifications With This System

Hey there, welcome to The Career Rx. I’m your host, Marjorie Stiegler. This podcast is all about the important stuff they don’t teach you in medical school, about how to treat your career, like the business it really is, and how to be strategic about your success. I’ll show you how to use modern strategies to get ahead, create your own path and do more of what you love. Every episode is inspired by questions from listeners just like you. So be sure to subscribe. And of course, send me those questions, so I can use them on a future episode. so you don’t miss anything. Be sure to always check the show notes on my website. Are you ready? Let’s get into it.

Hey, there, welcome back. Today’s episode is going to be my secret for managing all of those notifications that just come through on so many devices, time and time and time again, that can really make it very difficult to keep up. Because as, as my listeners have told me, either you feel like you’re constantly reacting to somebody sort of intruding upon your time with asking for things via email, text, message, direct message, or some other kind of ping or even even calling you or you feel as though you’re just being buried in them. And those little numbers, add up the indicators on your phone that you have, you know, dozens or hundreds or 1000s of unread messages. And it’s just so overwhelming that people don’t even want to get started. So I have a tip for handling this. It’s my favorite, I apply it to just about everything. And I’m going to share it with you today on this episode.

The other thing that’s going on that I’ll be telling everybody about soon as really coming up in not too long is the leverage and growth summit by my friend Peter Kim

Peter’s an anesthesiologist like me. He is the founder of passive income MD. And he has put on a summit last year that was just absolutely gangbusters and going to be doing it again this year. And I’m one of the speakers really excited about that, I’m going to have the link in the show notes here. So just scroll down or pop over to my website. So you can grab that, click on it, there are going to be many, many speakers at this physicians who have done all kinds of amazing things. But all around the same theme of really reclaiming sort of your life and the practice that you had always hoped that you would have answering questions like how do I create other side income? Or, you know, what did I do when I realized that medicine isn’t quite as secure as I thought it might be? What do I do to really reclaim some of my time, or some ownership over my professional career, you guys know, I’m talking about this kind of thing all the time it is at the core, even if my own courses, but I really recommend this too, because, first of all, it’s free. This is an amazing summit, eight days long tons and tons of really diverse experiences being shared. And you can watch it all live for free. So click on the link, this is going to be an amazing summit already.

Let me tell you guys my secret now for keeping all those notifications and all of the various types of communication that are coming in all the time under control. And first I should tell you my definition of under control means that I feel like I have a handle on it. Right? I’m responding on the timeline that feels right to me and it’s not stressing me out. So you may have a different definition of what under control means for you. But that’s what it means for me. And looking at it through that lens, I have adopted some of the best tips that I’ve heard around kind of into a single system.

And it consists of a sort of a one touch rule, if you will, I try to touch things just one time. And then I have three categories for decisions when I do touch them or or look at them, I guess is perhaps more appropriate with virtual things. So let me explain what I mean by that.

First of all, the one touch rule means I intend to only manage things one time. It is a huge waste to open email, open regular mail, see that some kind of action is needed and get kind of partway thinking about it, but then have to put it on hold, go do something else. And come back, it’s really hard to pick up where you left off. And it requires much more mental energy. And you end up kind of recreating and taking up the same amount of time that was already spent. Now you’re sort of doubling that time because you’re doing it twice, you’re duplicating effort. And so I try to never do that. Because of this I have to be very, very mindful of how I handle especially electronic communication and things that could come in on my phone or on my watch, so that I basically don’t touch them unless I intend to handle them.

This does mean that I’m not just looking at notifications as they come in, I turn off and disable a lot of those things so that I don’t get a ping when an email comes in. And I try not to get you know audible or buzz notifications either around various messages, but instead I have time set aside in my day to look at them that’s either in my calendar, or it’s just a habit. So there are some things I do while I’m having my morning coffee, for example, or as I’m wrapping up my workday, but otherwise, I try very hard to not be responding to things as they come. Because otherwise, that will suck away huge chunks of your time, perhaps even your entire day.

When I do decide that I’m ready to, you know, do some management of my notifications, then I can sit down and I can go through systematically. But let’s just take email as an example. You can do the same thing with any kind of messages, whether it’s messages that come in through social media platforms, direct messages that go through your your work messaging platform, or your your phone, you know, text messaging to other people, any one of these things, I handle them all in the same way. So again, I don’t look at them as they come up. But when I look at them, that’s my one touch, right? I look at them without one touch and I make a decision, I make one of three decisions, really. And it’s always in this same framework.

  1. One easy decision is does this need my attention at all? And if the answer to that is no, then I immediately swipe or archive or whatever is the appropriate thing, right to get rid of it. So it’s a deletion or an archive immediately gone, it’s out, it doesn’t need my attention. And I don’t get distracted. With that, I just get it out of there.
  2. The other possibility is that I need to reply to it right away. And I only reply to things right away if I can handle it in two minutes or less. So it has to be something for which I can just reply in whatever circumstance I’m in whether I be on my phone or at my laptop, and that I can just jot down sort of my informal thinking, it doesn’t require me to create something new that’s lengthy or highly polished, and I can just answer it back are handled quickly. And this can sometimes be you know, financial things, it could be a couple sentences of a reply to a text or an email. But generally speaking, this is like super quick and dirty, and doesn’t really require a lot from me. And, and those, I don’t let those pile up, I handle them, right, if it’s a quick reply and done. That’s it.
  3. Then the third category is my tickler file. tickler file is essentially a way of sort of forward dating things. So putting it sort of on snooze, and can think of that as a snooze function that I know Gmail has, and that you can work with Outlook and some other systems like that to sort of get a reminder at some time in the future. The tickler is importantly different from a due date, it’s not just a random snooze to give you additional time. And it’s also not putting it on the due date. What it is, is a thoughtful way of deciding when you want to see it again, so that you’ll get it done on time. This prevents you from procrastinating because it doesn’t just sort of show up when it’s due. And it also doesn’t keep showing up day after day after day. And like every day if you just snooze it for a day, because then you become a little bit sort of numb to it and you kind of don’t see it anymore. And it just becomes this digital noise that kind of gathers space and junk.

So again, if it needs to be handled, and it can be handled in two minutes or less, I take care of it right away. If it’s going to require more than two minutes, then I put it in my tickler file for whatever day it is that I want to see it again. And it might even be that same day, and that’s fine. But if I’m not gonna be able to handle it right, then at the time that I’m managing my email that goes into the tickler for that day, and I do have a system whereby I make sure that my days tickler items are done at the end of the day. So it will get managed, but just not right then right because that interrupts the flow of my one touch rule and prevents me from handling the rest of my email box. By the way I mentioned to you that I love sanebox I’m gonna put a link to this in the show notes as well. This is much much better of an email management system than I have ever used. Before that I’ve ever seen before. I used to be a big fan of unroll me but Sanebox is head and shoulders better. So I’ll put a link to that as well. That helps you to really keep organized and automatically a lot of the mail that you like to get and you don’t want to unsubscribe from but that you also don’t really want you know building up in your inbox and distracting you from the other things that might be important. So Sanebox really, really fantastic.

I do the same thing with snail mail, by the way. So I still do get mail, I sometimes still get financial things to my house other things to my house that require me to take some kind of an action. And I do not open my mail on a daily basis. I open my mail, I just save it all in a pile and I open it once a week. Once a week when I open it, I open it at the time that I have either my computer or my phone, whatever I plan to handle financial things with. I do indeed also still have a little space in my office with a checkbook and envelopes and stamps so that if I need to handle it that way I can buy my printers on whatever needs to be happening when I go to open this mail in order to be able to respond to the mail. And similar type of situation. I mean a lot of it is junk mail and I don’t need it. So that’s going to go directly in the recycling bin. If it’s some

One thing that needs to reply, and I can do it quickly, like log on and quickly, you know, process a payment or put a check in the mail, then I do it right away two minutes, I get that done, I don’t let it accumulate, there it is. And then the third category are things that’s going to take a little longer, such as for now, I guess it’s the timely topic might tax returns, right, that always takes a little bit of time to organize because I do have a lot of different income streams and different documents that need to come together. So while I don’t actually do my own taxes, and I do have a bookkeeper who helps with that end of my business, a lot of documents, financial documents come right to me, and I’m the one who needs to at least double check them, if not, you know, round them up and put them somewhere that takes more than two minutes. So that’s something that goes in the tickler. And on the day that I have, you know, determined that that’s, that’s the day I’m going to get started on that. It’s not going to be the due date, the tax day, it’s going to be well in advance so that I can get things done. But also on a date that I’m expected to have everything I need. So I’m going to need all those 1099 to come. All of my royalty income, all of honoraria, all of the 1099 income for consulting and coaching, I need all of that to come to me first. So I pick that tickler date that’s going to fall somewhere in the middle. And then there’s no point in me opening that mail, if you see where I’m going with this, prior to the tickler date being able to act on it, there’s no point in even opening it that just takes up minutes.

So this may sound like a pretty regimented way. But I’m here to tell you it works really, really well. It means that you will check your email much less frequently, you will check your voicemail much less frequently, you will check your text messages and your social media pings much, much less frequently. But when you do, you will have allocated a period of time where you can go through and say whether or not something needs your action, whether you can just ignore it, or whether you need to put some time on the calendar at a future date. That’s how I use my tickler folder to make sure that I manage it at the right time. And then I’m not buried by things. Things don’t get away from me, they don’t fall on the backburner. And I don’t have that anxiety of looking at my icons on my phone saying I have dozens or hundreds or 1000s of unread and unattended notifications. So I hope this system works for you. If you’re looking for a way to streamline that for yourself and get out from underneath that stress. Let me know how it works for you. Or if you have a different tip. I’m always happy to hear from you. That’s it for today. Bye for now.

Thanks for joining me on this episode of The Career Rx. Be sure to leave me a review on Apple podcasts or whatever podcast player you’re using to listen today. And definitely send me those questions so I can answer them and give you a shout out on a future episode. Bye for now.

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