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4 Things I've Done to Free Myself from Notifications

April 26, 2017

4 Things I've Done to Free Myself from Notifications

The modern workplace has too many distractions. There are dozens of applications we use daily to communicate and get information, and we’re expected to keep up with all of them. It’s a big problem, because being present everywhere all the time is killing our productivity.

Between text messages, Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, and email there are too many ways to keep in touch and too many incoming notifications demanding our attention. And if I’m honest, I’m easily distracted, so each new distraction really hampers my productivity. In order to get some of that productivity back, I tried a few different tricks. These are the 4 that worked best for me — I think they’ll help you too if you’re easily distracted like me.

1. Hit Snooze

As Darius Foroux pointed out recently, we’re mostly focused on time management, but we should do more to manage our attention. Notifications are the enemies of attention. One of the best ways to get your attention back? Put your notifications on snooze and marvel at your new level of productivity.

2. Schedule Interruption Time

Now that you’ve snoozed your notifications, you need to make sure that you set aside time to see if something important happened. Block off a few times a day to respond to messages and clear notifications. Lifehacker recommends a 15 minute minimum for these catch-up sessions.

I set aside 15 minutes at the end of each hour to look at any notifications I’ve received. In that 15 minutes, my inbox gets emptied, I reply to messages or make a note to follow up later, then I dive right back into work.

3. Get Granular

Most apps let you tailor your communication preferences with a lot of granularity. Our team has a lot of different group chats going on at any one time. Instead of getting a notification for each new message, I only get notifications when my name is mentioned. By selecting only notifications for personal mentions, I cut out most of the noise, and when I get to interruption time, it’s easy to see which notifications to look at first.

4. Choose one device to receive notifications, and turn off notifications on all the rest

This is probably going to be your phone. Ever get annoyed by opening your mac and getting a stream of notifications you’ve already looked at? Yeah, me too. Not only are redundant notifications annoying, they provide absolutely no value. By restricting notifications to one device, you don’t need to worry about that. Keeping your notifications in one place also makes it easier to snooze notifications when you need a time out.

Here’s the tip that I tried to turn off all notifications on my Macs. Don’t forget to turn notifications off on your web browser, too. Why did they ever think we needed more notifications anyway?

Have you tried any of these strategies? How did they work out? Or if you have a different strategy that works for you, let everyone know by leaving a comment below.