Weekend Projects

One Small Way to Regain Control of Your Life, in Just 10 Minutes

updated Apr 17, 2020
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Credit: Studio Firma/Stocksy

Apartment Therapy Weekend Projects is a guided program designed to help you get the happy, healthy home you’ve always wanted, one weekend at a time. Sign up now for email updates so you never miss a lesson.

Important reminder: You are not at the mercy of your phone. Even as you’re huddled within the confines of your home all day, you can retain control: It is you who gets to decide how you spend your time and what needs you’ll jump to and which you’ll put aside until you’re in a mental place to address them.

Quarantine or not, I’ve always resented the red notification bubbles on my phone that scream at me for attention. I’m the type to check my notifications purely to make the silent siren signal disappear. My apps are arranged in rainbow order on my home screen (thank you, The Home Edit) and red circles mess with the orderly and happy-making look created by my efforts. Aesthetic irritation aside, I also don’t like being pulled around by notifications. It doesn’t feel good to be a passive follower of what the apps on my phone try to tell me to look at and do.

I’ve since decided that I want to consume and interact on my own time and on my own terms. Although I still struggle with staying within my personal parameters for screen time, I do aim to quiet the “noise” (my phone is always on silent, but those scarlet circles blare) and input that’s always within arm’s reach.

One way I do that is to carefully cull the notifications I allow on my phone. It’s easier than you think to set which notifications are allowed to show and which remain hidden until you open an app. And it’s a small but impactful way to enjoy the sense of calm and control we’re craving.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

This Weekend: Calm the notifications on your phone.

If you’ve never been very mindful of your notification settings before, your phone likely serves up a mix of reports you want and others wish would never show up. Luckily, you can thoughtfully adjust your settings all from one place.

Here’s how to do it on an iPhone:

  • Open “Settings”
  • Select “Notifications”
  • From here, you can choose notification styles for every single app that’s on your phone, by clicking the name of each app and checking or unchecking options for lock screen messages, notification center messages, and banner messages (or toggling off “Allow Notifcations” if you don’t want any alerts at all)
  • Here’s the tricky part: The toggle switch to control the red bubbles is just below, labeled “Badges”
  • Go through every app on your list and make sure the notifications are set to what works for you—I only keep badges on for texts, calls, Marco Polo, and my reminders

You’ll love the surprising amount of peace and calm that comes from your toned down phone. Once they’re reduced to your personalized essentials, you’ll see just how much you phone’s notifications pulled at you—and how free you are now.

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You can catch up with weekend projects right here. Share your progress with us and others by posting updates and photos on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #atweekendproject.

Remember: This is about improvement, not perfection. Each week you can either choose to work on the assignment we’ve sent you, or tackle another project you’ve been meaning to get to. It’s also completely okay to skip a weekend if you’re busy or not feeling the assignment.