Why You Should Mute Your Notifications

Reclaim your sanity. Turn off the buzzes, beeps and banners to bring more peace into your life.

iPhone held in hand with two banner notifications on an unlocked screen.
iPhone held in hand with two banner notifications on an unlocked screen.
Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

The non-connected good ol’ times

As a 90s kid, I grew up in a world that was not yet connected 24/7. Getting the first home computer before the new millennium felt like making a technological leap into the realms of outer space. The anticipation when plugging in the internet cable felt exciting. Google was no more advanced than a bare HTML skeleton.

The late Social Media hype

Social Media platforms these days have infinite scroll and are designed to keep you on their platform. Attention is currency. Lazy load, recommended reads or videos, autoplay. The stream of content just doesn’t end.

The rise of network tools such as e-mail and Social Media, along with access to them through smartphones and computers has “networked” most knowledge workers’ attention into chips.

Being in a constant state of distraction cannot accommodate deep work, which requires long periods of uninterrupted thinking”.

No amount of videos on drawing, Facebook ads or how-to-write tutorials will teach me how to actually draw, set up profitable ad campaigns or write appealing, attention-grabbing pieces. I will have to practice.

Going deep

When learning something complex that requires your attention, how deep can you really go when you block off periods of time to isolate yourself and focus on one topic only for a longer stretch of time -versus- keeping Netflix on in a tab in the background, while being in a FaceTime call with a good friend and also trying to write database queries?

When you switch tasks, it takes a while for your attention to follow. Part of it, a residue, remains occupied with the previous task. Even when you finish one task before starting to work on the next, it takes time for your attention to fully shift.

Network tools and their constant beeping and buzzing distract us from work that requires us to wholly focus.

Impact

I’ve only read a quarter of the entire book, but it is causing a shift in my thinking. It makes sense that allowing distractions to eat away at attention hinders deep, quality work. My time is limited and I want to make the most out of it. Busyness is not a badge of honour I want to wear. I’d rather go deep for just a couple of hours a day and get done what I need to get done, versus spending twelve hours half-arsing around and still not completing a task.

How I apply this newly gained knowledge to my work

Through three main points:

  1. Time block slots on the calendar. Seeing it on the calendar reminds me to sit down at the designated time, and work. If I let fate decide, or wait until I “feel like it”, it won’t happen. The time slots can be half an hour to five hours long.
  2. Break down daily goals into hourly chunks. For the next hour (or 50 minutes, as that’s how long virtual coworking sessions on Focusmate last for), I only focus on these 1 to 3 sub-tasks. I start with the first one and typically forbid myself to touch the next one. Scrolling on Social Media during a session? That is also strictly forbidden. You could use a Pomodoro timer if you have no issues motivating yourself to start working and you don’t need to feel the guilt of public accountability.

Busyness quality output

If you are ready to stop wearing busyness as a badge of honour as well, and learn how to get more and more quality work done in the time you have, I recommend reading up on the concepts explained in Deep Work.

Written by

Writing my way to progress. Topics: personal growth, life lessons, tooling & (failed) ventures.

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