The missing step to all Productivity Advice – Disable Notifications

We all want to boost our productivity and avoid procrastination. The problem is that we live in a world where it’s a norm to check our phones as soon as we wake up, read and send email at the breakfast table, catch up on Twitter and Facebook in the Bathroom. It is no longer surprising to hear terms like “screen-off days”, “no phones at the dinner table”, “no devices in the bedroom”, “screen-time for kids”, “phone jammers in the classroom” et al.

Many articles about productivity have been written and published by industry pundits, time management experts and productivity gurus. They are all good, and honestly I tend to read anything that helps productivity and try to practice the ones that suits me.

I’m no productivity guru nor a time management expert but I have experimented with quite a lot of routines and disciplines. I have somehow come to the realization that none of these productivity advices, tips, tricks and routines are useful and effective if we have one thing constantly nagging us – Notifications. So, I’ll focus on one, just one, sure shot routine that will change the way you focus and increase productivity.

Stop the Notifications.

Yes, that’s it — stop all form of notifications — in all of your devices, be it the phones, tablets or your computer. Here are few of the ones that you can start with, feel free to experiment and stick to a routine that serves you best.

Let’s start with your phone. Every app in your phone will try to notify you for everything. Well, it turns out you don’t need to be notified at all. Head over to the Notification Center of your phone and disable the notifications, except the ones that needs to be really ON – Phone Calls, Calendar and other apps that notifies when needed such as Cab Booking Apps, Flight Timings, etc. Experiment with the notifications but remember, “If everything is important, then nothing is important.”

iPhone Battery Notification

Disable Phone Battery Percentage Display.

Let’s study a very simple example.

Here is a simple passive notification that can keep you on your toes and stress you out the most – phone battery percentage indicator. We have become so obsessed with ‘juicing-up’ our phones that our level of happiness and relaxation decreases exponentially with the decrease of the battery percentage display. Seriously, disable that. The same goes for your Laptop Battery Indicator – turn that percentage indicator off.

Yes, during the initial days, it will be hard for you and many will give up. It’s OK but now you know you can do that, give it a try another time. Try if for about a week and once you get used to it, you’ll realize that you no longer care that much. You’re much more free than before – Free Your Mind.

Disable Email Notifications

Disable any form of Email Notification.

Another major source of distraction and productivity drain is emails. I won’t have to repeat what experts have already said a thousand times, do not check your emails often, do not check emails in the morning, deal with emails twice or thrice in a day. If you plan and work based on emails, then you’re letting the person on the other end of that email control your life, your work and your family.

All those tips, tricks about managing and taking care of your emails will not be fruitful if you have email notifications for everything – newsletters, offers, discounts and of course, spams. Just disable that email notification.

No, you won’t miss anything important. If something is so important and life-changing, they will call you on your phone. Email is not a synchronous communication channel, it is supposed to be totally asynchronous.

Go ahead and disable all those notifications – stop all audio notifications, don’t allow your apps to bounce repeatedly when a new message arrives, don’t let Instant Message apps ping you with every new message, perhaps hide your Dock to avoid looking at the notifications counters of new messages, things to-do, etc.

Once you can live with no notifications, you’ll find that you’re no longer disturbed out of your zone. You’ll also realize why all those productivity tips and tricks didn’t work before. With no notifications, all the experts’ advice, productivity to-do and activities will begin to work. Give it a try.

Stop the Notifications.

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  • Great post and so true. Early on in my corporate career, I focused more on being likable which resulted in more and more output mainly because I couldn’t say no to anyone for fear of not being liked. Others around me got promoted faster and I, although well liked, became more bitter.

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