Kill your notifications. Yes, really. Turn them all off. (You can leave on phone calls and text messages, if you must, but nothing else.) You’ll discover that you don’t miss the stream of cards filling your lockscreen, because they never existed for your benefit. They’re for brands and developers, methods by which thirsty growth hackers can grab your attention anytime they want. Allowing an app to send you push notifications is like allowing a store clerk to grab you by the ear and drag you into their store. You’re letting someone insert a commercial into your life anytime they want. Time to turn it off.
This has bothered me for some time. Not least because the mental space needed to write anything more than a paragraph means turning off all notifications.
Push notifications sin-binned
It’s impossible to focus when there’s a constant barrage of calls on your attention. I go further than Pierce. For much of the time I have my phone set on silent, all computer notifications are permanently off. Everything, except system warnings to warn of a flat battery or similar.
Touch Voicemail catches messages from callers should they bother to leave one.
There are two exceptions to the clampdown. I allow text messages and voice calls from immediate family members and my clients or the people who work for them. The other exception is I allow calendar notifications to remind me if, say, I know I have to leave later for a meeting.
The downside of this is that some things get missed. It’s rare, but I have missed out on stories by putting myself in electronic purdah.
Yet on the whole, it works well. There’s always the list of missed calls, messages and so on. I can go to the notification centre scan the long, long list of missed items and realised that nothing important slipped through to the keeper.