Go On The Notification Diet,
Inbox Zero-Style!

Go On The Notification Diet,
Inbox Zero-Style!

Range Govindan
Aug 24, 2012

While many people leave their smartphones silent these days, since it's kind of rude to have them constantly ring when you get a new notification, when you're trying to get work done, it's hard not to check out what's happening whenever your phone vibrates or starts flashing. Most of the time, these notifications can be ignored, but it's next to impossible to do so consistently. Here's a technique that has worked well for me in the last couple of weeks.

Instead of simply switching your smartphone off, and not being able to use the apps, I have been experimenting with switching my phone's 'Airplane Mode' on selectively during the work day. The approach to this is kind of like how I use Inbox Zero with my email.

Inbox Zero is a great way to manage large amounts of email. It's perfect for most people that receive between 10 and 50 emails a day (but can become unmanageable if you receive more). It involves emptying your email inbox each time you open up your email client. This forces you to address all emails and very effectively get stuff done. However, to get to an empty inbox the first time can take a while. It took me about 6 months before I was able to empty the pages and pages of emails that I had in my inbox.

If we apply this idea to notifications by using 'Airplane Mode' to silence your phone when you're working, it can make sense for some people. If you need to be reached for emergencies, for your kids, spouse, or work, then it's probably not appropriate. However, since I rarely get emergency phone calls, it's fine.

Here's how I proceeded:
1. Decide on a period of time during which you'll work uninterrupted.
2. Set up a timer on your phone for that period. In my case, 45 minutes to an hour works well.
3. Switch on your phone's airplane mode.
4. Whenever your alarm sounds, switch off airplane mode and check your notifications.
5. Repeat steps until the end of your workday.

Smartphones can be distracting, especially if you're trying to concentrate on a task. This is even worse if you're working from home. There's no one to stop you from checking your phone whenever you get a new notification. Going on a notification diet can help you accomplish more during your day, and you end up wasting less time.

Cross-Platform Apps That Make Life Easier
Living With Push Notifications Day & Night
Be A More Polite Smartphone User

(Images: Flickr member Pouwerkerk licensed for use under Creative Commons and Flickr member Leo.prie.to licensed for use under Creative Commons)

Created with Sketch.