If you want to stay productive skip the smart watches; or follow this advice.

The tech world is atwitter (and on Twitter) about the forthcoming release of the Apple Watch.  A connected smart watch that promises to provide you with apps galore, keep track of your location, pulse count and give you notifications from your iPhone right on your wrist in an instant.

Yesterday I saw a tweet from Michael Hyatt (whom I respect as a leader and tech user – get connected with him online with stat!), referencing an article by a tech writer about his Apple Watch Nightmare.

It’s not the first smart watch to the market.  Pebble, Android Wear and numerous other devices all promise to take the notifications from our smartphones and place them right at our wrists, without even having to check our phones.

Pebble Steel Watch

Heres the problem though…we’re already a distracted people and these kinds of devices have huge potential to worsen the problem.

In my coaching practice, I work with high level people to help take them to the next level.  Right now, many of my clients state that distraction and time management are the top issues holding them back.

For example: One Executive at the top of his organization is dealing with the massive influx of email, phone calls and his direct reports dropping by his office during business hours. Notifications that he has email, text, or phone calls going right to his wrist is going to reduce his attention span to next to nothing.

Another client, a Vice President with almost 100 people in his division is already struggling with the volume of notifications that he gets on a daily basis. During a time I spent with him, he was on the phone or answering texts/email for all but a few minutes of time. Imagine his chaos of getting notifications to his wrist while he’s on the phone already…

Still yet another client, responsible for a multimillion dollar complex, has a list of projects that is literally in the multiple pages when printed.  The influx of notifications going right to his wrist would be impossible to keep up with during the day.

They are not the only ones, and I suspect that you’re dealing with this tension as well…

So what’s the solution?

I see two approaches that you can take (and I advocate for both positions depending on your personality).

1) Don’t get a smart watch. Very few things in life are important enough that you need instant notification.

2) Turn off all but a few notifications. As a matter of fact, I regularly encourage clients to turn off all notifications on their cell phone, limit their email checking to twice daily, and put their phones on do not disturb for extended periods of time.

Intentional management of your time requires focus, and distraction from daily influx of notifications can really ruin your flow.

You may think that it’s not possible to build in time to be disconnected, but I encourage you to try it.  We never used to be this connected, and by communicating with your clients, coworkers and family what your schedule is, it’s not only doable, but the secret to a successful career.

I’m not all against smart watches. As many of you know, I’m a tech oriented kind of guy.  From network administration, to Ham radio, I love my tech toys.  As a matter of fact, I’m a smart watch user myself with a beautiful Pebble Steel connected to my Android phone.  But I’ve throttled notifications to just text messages from my personal cell number and my calendar alerts.  No email, no text from the business number. I check my various notifications when I intentionally choose to, on my schedule.

The bottom line is that technology can help or dramatically hurt your productivity, and the only way to ensure you are able to succeed is to take ownership of your time and be intentional about your schedule.

How are you dealing with distractions from your devices and daily work life?