12 Privacy Mistakes that Can Cost You Your Job in 2018

Does the name Ashley Payne sound familiar?

If yes, that’s because you’ve probably read about her before: Payne, a teacher in Winder, Georgia, made news for being fired when she posted a picture of herself holding a glass of wine in one hand and a pint of beer in the other on social media. Although this picture was posted on her personal social media account, it didn’t matter. Apparently, a parent saw her social media post and wasn’t too pleased with Payne drinking on her private time and posting about it on social media. The unsatisfied parent went ahead to complain to the school board, and this cost Payne her job.

Related: 10 Things That Will Help You Get Promoted in 2018

Payne was soon summoned to the office of the head teacher at the school she worked and the interaction went something like this:

Head teacher: Do you have a Facebook page?

Payne: Yes

Head teacher: Do you have any pictures of yourself up there with alcohol?

Payne: Yes

Head teacher: Resign or be suspended.

Now, we can start to debate what Payne’s mistake was: Having a Facebook page? Billions of people do! Drinking alcohol? Billions of people do, too? Posting personal pictures on her personal Facebook page? Well, billions of people do too!

Payne’s mistake was simple: not taking her privacy, especially in an online and social media world, seriously. And it cost her her job! In an interview with a publication, she said:

I just want to be back in the classroom, if not that classroom, a classroom. I want to get back doing what I went to school for, my passion in life.”

Related: 4 Powerful Strategies for Relaunching Your Career in 2018

In Payne’s case, teaching is her passion — her career… her dream. Yet, a simple privacy mistake cost her more than she had anticipated.

Like Payne, countless people have lost their jobs due to easily-avoidable privacy mistakes. Countless people have lost their career. Don’t make the following privacy mistakes in 2018, or they could cost you your career.

Why You Are Losing 10 IQ Points Every Time This Happens

Why You Are Losing 10 IQ Points Every Time This Happens

It’s 10 a.m. on a Tuesday. You are trying to complete a report for your boss, but every couple of minutes, your computer is alerting you to the fact you have a new email. And your phone, which is sitting right next to you, is lighting up every few seconds to inform you that the very cute photo of your toddler has just gotten another “Like.”

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A few minutes later, your phone starts vibrating with an incoming call. It’s a blocked number so you don’t pick up. In spite of the deluge of interruptions, you have managed to stay strong and not give in. You keep writing your report.

Despite the willpower you demonstrated in not giving in to the temptation of constant notifications, you would have done as good a job on the report if you had missed a night’s sleep. And you would have done marginally better on the report than if you had been smoking marijuana at your desk while writing.

Research from the University of London has shown that when we are bombarded with distractions and notifications, such as incoming emails and calls, we lose on average 10 IQ points. And this is if we don’t give in to them and keep on working.

While 10 IQ points might not seem like a huge deal, it’s the equivalent of not having slept the night before, and twice as much as you would lose from smoking some pot. Essentially, the distractions (even “unopened”) reduce our mental sharpness. In addition, the energy exerted in avoiding checking the distractions tires out our willpower muscle.

Related: 4 Reliable Signs Someone Is About to Waste Your Time

If you would like to maintain your current IQ score while working, and not be a victim to it dropping, follow these three strategies.

1. Switch your phone to airplane mode (even when you are not on a plane).

The easiest way to avoid distractions is to remove them altogether. By putting your phone in airplane mode, you eliminate any vibrating, beeping or lighting up that may occur. Yes, you may miss a hilariously entertaining cat video, but you’ll do a better job on whatever task you are currently trying to focus on.

Author Tim Ferriss keeps his phone on airplane mode for more than 80 percent of the day. Ferris told Valet. magazine, “There are so many distractions and so much of social media is designed just to get you angry and fighting … when I need to focus or just maintain my sanity, I switch my phone to airplane mode. This disables any unwanted interruptions. This is particularly critical post-dinner and during my morning routine.”

Related: Get it Done: 35 Habits of the Most Productive People (Infographic)

2. Turn off notifications on all devices.

Once you have switched your phone to airplane mode, turn off notifications on all other devices. This includes your computer, laptop, tablet and smart watch. It’s important to not forget any single device, as this could be your downfall.

While this is easy advice to give, it can be hard advice to receive. Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University tried to recruit participants into a study whereby they would have to turn off all phone notifications for a whole week. They weren’t able to recruit a single participant, and had to reduce the “notifications off” time to just one day. Not surprisingly, at the end of the 24-hour period, participants reported being significantly more productive and less distracted.

Related: 10 Simple Things Successful People Do Every Morning (Infographic)

3. Turn your phone to gray.

You might have noticed how bright and exciting apps and notifications look on a smart phone. They use bright colors to get our attention — not dissimilar to slot machines in Las Vegas. To reduce distractions, switch your phone to grayscale. You can check out this amusing video from The Atlantic about why you need to do this and how to make it happen. As senior editor James Hamblin says, “Instagram, when everything is in grayscale, looks pretty awful”.

While changing any habit or addiction is hard, try experimenting with just one distraction busting change at a time to give yourself the best chance of success. If you don’t, you may as well be smoking marijuana at work.