No More Notifications

by David · 5 comments

Push notification services

I’m experimenting with ways to increase my productivity. Learning two languages, how to draw and being a university student is quite a load (a load I love having), however, for me to succeed, I need to cut out everything that isn’t contributing to the bigger picture. First step, no more notifications.

Social media is great, we all love catching up with friends and having a laugh, but without realising it we’ve given social media too much power. I’m a proud owner of an iphone and ipad, these devices are great for being productive on the move, but they also have the power to wound your productive plans (yes I said wound).

Whenever I receive a notification I instantly attend to it, no matter what I’m doing I turn to see what’s going on. Together my apple devices produce anything between one and fifteen notifications an hour. Attending to them doesn’t take very long, possibly no more than three seconds, however that’s exactly the source of the problem, they’re easy to attend to.

The real knock on your productivity comes after you’ve attended to a notification. You’ve now put yourself in a position where you have to make one of two decisions. One, close the notification; Two, open the application to respond in some way. I would like to say that I often close notifications, but the truth is I don’t. More often than not I open the application screaming for my attention, either to read an article or respond to a twitter message (Follow me).

Again, I’m not spending a great deal of time attending to these notifications, but they disrupt my rhythm and take me out of the zone. I may only spend three minutes or so attending to them (sometimes more), but real time is lost when you multiply three by ten. It’s a delusion to believe that you’re dedicating a solid hour to reading, writing or studying, when you’ve been attending to notifications.

You may think this doesn’t apply to you if you don’t own an Apple device. Here’s why you’re wrong. Notifications are a lot bigger than Apple and social media. The light that flashes on your Blackberry, the e-mail that pops up on your desktop and the vibration on your mobile are all examples of notifications. Take control. Don’t allow for technology to command your attention when it pleases.  Why have we made social media a priority in our lives? You may not feel as though you have, but every time you’ve been taken away from a task in order to check your Facebook or Twitter you’ve doing exactly that.

I’ve switched off all notifications on all of my devices. If you’re the slightest bit serious about increasing your productivity you’ll consider doing the same.


  • I’ve done the same with my email and even my googletalk chat boxes. I simply don’t need to be notified, I check that BS enough already…

    • Hey Chris, thanks for stopping by.
      I couldn’t agree with you more. What we ‘need’ to do is put ourselves first.

  • I agree with you. I think getting too many notifications can really put you off track. When you get one, you have to stop what you’re doing and respond to it. Then you have to get back to what you were doing. This constant stopping and starting takes longer than it would be normally. I think that’s why I limit the amount of notifications I receive.

  • Anonymous

    Very good observations, to be sure. One point to reconsider, however, is whether your readers deem virtual social interaction to be a productive activity in of itself; in other words, the assumption that notifications invariably result in dead-weight time expenditures presumes to know the priorities of everyone, when in fact, it represents only your own priorities. One might argue that dispersing social interaction via installments throughout the day encroaches less upon his/her productivity in that it supplants an otherwise need to devote a comparatively larger chunk of time that exclusively maintains social relations.

    In my own case, I find notifications to be just that: notifications. If they’re worth acting on immediately, then I don’t consider doing so to be a violation of my productivity. Now, it merits addressing the fact that your concept of productivity is far more robust than mine, and so my standards are immeasurably lower than yours are 😉 Notwithstanding, I believe that I’m not 100% enslaved to my compulsion concerning social media—other compulsions, on the other hand, well…..I’ll not comment on those.

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