Push Notification Distractions and Anxiety

Everyone knows that distractions are productivity killers. But I’ve also started to become aware that all of the vibrations and dings going off in my pocket and on my desktop all day aren’t just distracting, but that every time they go off, I also feel just a little anxious. There’s a tiny bit of stress every time I hear or feel a notification that takes me away from what I’m doing.

I have no idea if I’m the only person to ever feel this way, but I don’t feel like it can be that uncommon. We just aren’t built to have our concentration broken in that way so often. So, in order to be more productive, less anxious, person I’ve decided to do a few things about it.

Deleting Noisy and Useless Apps

I had a bunch of different social apps on my phone I didn’t need: Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Path, Foursquare and Tumblr. Of those, I use Facebook to keep up with people who I don’t have a better way to track, and Tumblr for browsing and time wasting. Nothing has ever happened on any of these that needed my immediate attention, so I deleted all of them from my phone.

The social apps I kept were for Twitter, App.net and Instagram. For Twitter and App.net, I deleted the desktop clients I had and decided to only use them from my phone. I kept Instagram because I like some of the pictures I take with it, but I may change my mind on it too.

Any apps that I don’t use on at least a near-daily basis, I also deleted. If they’re that important, why do I have them buried in a folder on my third home screen? For any apps I use, but that send notifications for things that aren’t time sensitive (e.g., Instacast for new podcast episodes), I turned off notifications all together.

Dealing with Mail

Mail is one case where sometimes I might get something kind of urgent, but that most of the time is just buzzing away annoying me for no reason. I moved it to my second home screen, and turned off notifications and badges for everything except VIP. I also removed a few people from VIP that didn’t need to be there.

Using Do Not Disturb

The last thing I’ve started doing is keep “do not disturb” active on both my phone and computer whenever I don’t want to be bothered (which is a lot). On your phone, you can set it to always let certain people and repeated calls through, but I turned those off too. If I need to focus, nothing is so urgent that it can’t wait for a little bit.

Collin Donnell @collin