Turn Your Push-Notifications Off for Productivity and Mental Clarity

Avatar Michelle Estevez | January 9, 2020

Turn Your Push-Notifications Off for Productivity and Mental Clarity

Fuck Off

I disabled all push notifications on my phone—with the exception of the a few apps. If we’re being real here, we all check our phone religiously anyway. Push notifications have their place and we have the option to assigning them accordingly. It’s so often where I’ll hear the vibration of a friend’s phone notifying them of several incoming group texts, likes on social media, a live video someone just started, and other indirectly related pings. Rather than having a phone chime at us every five seconds, I get to decide when I want to text or scroll. Turning push notifications off for productivity and mental clarity doesn’t mean you are a total hermit. Instead, it puts the power back in our hands. I’ve experienced less stress throughout this process which is a major plus. In an increasingly screen-filled world, this type of management is of extreme importance and value.

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Evaluating Habits

Our screens create a dimension that alters our constructed sense of time beyond comprehension. When I began using the Screen Time feature on my iPhone, I was unpleasantly surprised to see my daily average sum up to three hours and 25 minutes. It’s embarrassing to admit. That makes for a total of 21 hours—almost an entire day.

As I began to investigate my own habits, I also wondered what it was like for others. In a recent poll, I asked my followers whether or not they had push notifications enabled on their devices. Interestingly, half of their responses shared a similar perspective to my own. In a constant battle for attention, various media companies compete with one another for our clicks and views. However, consumers are becoming more mindful when it comes to how they disperse their energy. While managing alerts can increase productivity, how does this compare when it comes to utilizing notifications for work and professional responsibilities? After all, employers and teammates rely on one another for different tasks.

Do Not Disturb

Push Notification

The Do Not Disturb Challenge studied a group of 30 volunteers to document the effects disabling notifications would have on their wellbeing and productivity levels. It was hypothesized that disabling notifications would reduce phone usage, but not eliminate it. This is where I stand. Selectively disabling push notifications allows me to have a more active experience with my device. Rather than passively responding to a Pavlovian summon, phantom vibration, or chiming bell, I am granted the opportunity to observe my own habits. At first, I would grab my phone habitually, with no concern or intention behind it. Sometimes I’d open my phone and wonder what the purpose was to begin with. The more I became aware of this, the more I’d condition myself to use my phone with intent. This applies to push notifications.

The participants in the Do Not Disturb Challenge discovered an increase in focus when it came to completing a task. However, many felt a pang of anxiety when it came to responding to a manager or coworker.  Others felt a sense of freedom and opted for selectively disabling notifications on their phone.

Selective Hearing Isn’t So Bad

In my experience, I find selectively disabling notifications to be a liberating practice. Mindlessly extending my arm to reach for my phone is now met with a pause. Not all distractions require a chiming bell. Sometimes the distractions reside in our awareness and selectively choosing which thoughts to explore can be just as beneficial as the notifications you decide to enable or disable.