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Stop Getting Distracted By Notifications

3 minutes to read.

Maybe it’s just me, but when I’m with other people I get very annoyed at their phones.

Maybe we are doing something fun and they post a picture on Instagram.

Then for the next 3 hours I have to sit by as they get a separate notification every time anyone likes that picture.

And then they pull out their phone every time and I see 125 on their email apps badge, 5 on Facebook, 1 on clash of Clans, and 1 for their OS update.

Having all of these notifications on is very distracting, not only to the person, but the people around them. Then the badge thing is 99% a pet peeve of mine, but I’m sure I could make a convincing enough productivity argument for that too.

So this post is about how to not be that person so you’re distracted less and have a clean phone.

Notifications & Badges

There are 2 phases to having less distracting notifications: the initial setting, and the maintenance.

Phase 1

iOS: Go to Settings > Notifications

For the initial set up, go through start at the top and completely turn off notifications for anything that meets any of these criteria:

(Feel free to ignore any of these, these are just what I subscribe to)

  • Games
  • Video
  • App Store
    • These update automatically. No need to see how many will be updated tonight
  • Never use but have for whatever reason.
    • Don’t have an app that you open to clear notification more often that you do to use the function of the app.
  • Shopping
  • ESPN
    • Leave this on if you want, but it least turn badges off. Way too many news updates IMO.
  • Social
    • There is never a moment where you will need to know the exact moment someone likes your photo. I’m sure you open this every day anyway, you won’t miss anything.
  • Podcast apps
    • Just check this when you want to listen to a podcast. Very rarely will you stop what you are doing to listen to a podcast the second it comes out.
  • Photo editing apps

 

So what does this leave turned on?

  • Reminder apps
  • Productivity apps
  • Messaging Apps

This leaves only the things you need to know immediately and turns off the notifications for everything else. Similar to the rules I have in my Apple Watch article, but slightly less strict.

Email exception: If you are the kind of person that never has inbox 0, please turn off the badges for your email. Leave the notifications on, but turn the badges off. Having this is no longer telling you anything. You know that you always have unread email, you don’t need a constant reminder.

 

Phase 2

The initial sweep should take you no longer than 15 minutes. And after that you will have eliminated 95% of your distractions.

Then the maintenance is even easier

This isn’t something you have to do every day, just keep these 2 rules in the back of your mind as you go through life dismissing unnecessary notifications:

  1. When you get this notification do you ever interact with it? If no, turn all notifications off.
  2. Do you ever see this badge on for more than a day or two? If no, turn the badge off.

 

I hope these tips help you live an equally informed and less distracted life.

If you found this helpful please leave a comment letting me know or even share on Twitter here. :)

If you didn’t find it helpful, then let me know how I can improve it in the comments.

 

Thank you for reading,

Gil

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