Disable Notifications

What is constantly begging for your attention, and what gets your attention?  Those pesky pop-ups, bells, and whistles to notify us of a new email, Facebook message or news article get our attention.  Turning them off on your desktop, tablet and phone can save you time, brain processing power, and energy.  The result is an increase in focus on your work and an increase in productivity.  Facebook pop-ups, email alerts, Tweets, and Instant Messenger apps take your focus away from what you are working on for a split second.   Even if you don’t give in to the urge to click on the notification or look at your phone, your brain has lost it’s thought process.  Now, it takes time to switch back to your work.  As a result, the notification has caused you to lose productivity and time.

How to disable notifications:

Every app and device has different instructions on how to disable notifications.   However, here are a few instructions how to turn them off (or adjust them) on several different types of devices.
iPhone Notifications
Go to >Settings>Notifications>
  • Go into each individual app and turn off the notifications or change the setting.  In many cases, you may want to leave “badges” as an alert of new items.  (These do not pop-up on your phone but will show up in each app’s icon as a number in a red circle).
  • You may need to keep some alerts like calendar appointment alerts.
  • If you need to be alerted when a new email comes from someone important, iOS will allow you to select a few VIP’s!  You can setup this feature by going into your Mail>Mailboxes>VIP and click “Add VIP”.  Select the contacts you would like to make VIP’s.  Then select “VIP Alerts” to select how you would like to receive notifications for emails received from these people only.
Android Notifications
Go to >Settings>Sound & Notification> App notifications
  • Each individual app is listed here, and you can disable notifications off by toggling the Block option.
  • You may need to keep some alerts like calendar appointment alerts.
  • Also, you can long press on a notification to bring up a link to the notification page for that app via the “i” icon.  
Mac
The easiest way to turn off all notifications is to click on the 3 little lines in the top right of your Mac menu bar, and turn on “Do Not Disturb”.  If you still need a few notifications (like from your calendar), you can select the type of notifications you need.  Just click  the Apple logo in the menu bar on the top left.  From here select “System Preferences>Notifications.  Each application will be listed, and you can select which ones to disable or make changes to how you are notified.  
Disable notifications
PC Notifications
Turning off notifications on a PC is a little bit more challenging because it depends on which version of Windows you are using.   Learn how to disable notifications on a PC by searching for “disabling notifications for _________ PC”.  (Fill the blank in with the name of the app you want to turn-off).
If it makes you nervous to disable notifications from everything, try turning off just one or two at first.  You will see an increase in your productivity and focus after turning off just one.  However, when you need to really focus on a task, disable all of your notifications for the maximum effect.
Sara Genrich is an Organization and Productivity Consultant, an Evernote Certified Consultant, and the creator of the Organizing @ Work for Success Workshop series.