Just Say No to Notifications

We’re all trying to get more things done. But the technology that’s supposed to help us be more productive is actually getting in our way.

Has this happened to you? You’re trying to process paperwork, and suddenly your doorbell rings (in your house AND your phone), your watch dings and vibrates, and your dogs start barking.

Distracting email notifications on iPhone

You’re notified of a UPS package delivery by your email, your “smart home” app, your watch, AND your dogs!

Stop this madness!

There are SO MANY notifications that interrupt us all day long on our computers, phones, and smartwatches. These rings, dings, vibrations, and buzzes are impossible to ignore. It’s time to pick up your phone and put yourself back in charge! All you have to do:

  • Identify which notifications are actually important.
  • Identify where it’s best to receive them.

Pick what’s important for you

OK, I actually like the “remember to move” notification on Fitbits and smartwatches. I’m a big believer in the power of exercise and I like the reminder to stand up and move around for a minute!

But as I discussed in my post about eliminating distractions, most notifications simply don’t deserve to interrupt your time.

How to turn off notifications

Go into the notifications section of your computer and phone now:

  • On Macs and iPhones, this is under Settings > Notifications
  • In Windows, it’s under Start > Settings > System > Notifications & Actions
  • On Android phones, it’s under Settings > Apps & Notifications

You’ll see a list of every app you’ve given permission to distract you. Turn them all off unless it’s something that actually makes you more effective.

Here’s a hint: notifications from your email, LinkedIn, security camera, social media, news media, or fitness apps are NOT making you more effective! Nothing needs to notify your phone other than calls, texts, reminders, and driving instructions. (My phone notifies me of phone calls – and that’s it.)

Push notifications aren’t the only thing. Do you know those little red bubbles on app icons, telling you something is unread or needs your attention? They’re sometimes called “badges,” and I turn them off, too. Some alert settings are only accessible through an app’s preference panel, so look there if you can’t change it in your system settings.

Pick ONE place for notifications to go

It’s no secret I’m an Apple fan. I have a Mac, iPhone, and Apple Watch. But if I let Apple have their way, I’d be getting calendar notifications in three places at once. Total overkill! Instead, I’ve set up my notifications so that text notifications ONLY come from my smartwatch, and calendar reminders ONLY appear on my computer.

On your computer, make sure you’re not getting notifications from multiple apps for a single event. For example, linking your Apple and Google calendars can result in notifications for both, which can be an annoying distraction. Or, if you’re getting emails from project management software, you don’t need to be getting notifications from their app at the same time.

Your notification preferences may differ from mine, but the key point here is to get only one notification instead of three or more.

What about emails?

This shocks some people, but I say all email notifications should be turned OFF, on ALL of your devices. Instead of having bells go off for every new email, just check your inbox after you’ve completed a task, or on the hour.

Some people still insist on being notified when certain emails come in. Try setting up “VIP Senders” or a “Priority Inbox” with your email program, so you’re only getting notifications for the highest priority emails.

If there’s an emergency, anyone looking for you will call or text you. If you use a lead generator, turn on text notifications so you don’t miss a new lead. No email is important enough to interrupt what you’re doing!

Keep it up!

One last tip: Don’t forget to say “NO” when you install a new app and it asks you if notifications are okay!

Once you’ve tamed your excessive notifications and duplicate reminders, you’ll feel a lot more sane – and you’ll be able to get tons more done without unnecessary distractions. Technology is great, but remember, you’re the one in control!

Until next time—go sell some stuff!


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