Just say ‘No’ to Notifications

All or nothing

I’ve recently come across several articles in which the author suggests removing all (or most) of the applications from your smartphone to fight distraction. I’ve also come across multiple people who’ve taken these steps.

I do agree you should go through your smartphone applications on occasion and delete the ones you don’t use often. Keeping your digital clutter at a minimum is great for organization and could have other benefits like improved battery performance.

The War already started

Apps put the ‘smart’ in smartphone so I wouldn’t delete applications from my phone. I do wage war against notifications. Notifications are essentially being weaponized to highjack your brain and your time. Our time is extremely valuable. Facebook is worth more than $220 Billion — that’s the value of our time for that one service alone.

Notifications aren’t inherently bad. But too few people understand how they work — or what they’re actually trying to accomplish. Or more specifically, who’s working for who. Notifications work for you, not the other way around. However, too many of us jump to action for a notification more quickly than any other request. Like Pavlov’s dog, we’ve been conditioned. We hear that ding or feel that buzz and our fingers leap into action before we even realize it.

Instant Gratification

We act on notifications immediately because it ‘feels good’. It gives us a quick rush of productivity. But it’s a trick. A cheap rush of superficial task ‘management’ (actually a lack of management). We feel needed, important, and productive. But what’s the reality? What if we didn’t see the notification and act immediately? Would anything have changed? Notifications are like fast food, cheap and easy, lacking real substance. They feel good in the moment but can quickly become unhealthy.

Turn them Off

Facebook would prefer you spend 100% of your time on Facebook. That’s how they make money. “How do we get people to spend more time on Facebook?” — that’s the goal of every notification. Twitter would prefer you spend 100% of your time on Twitter. Linkedin wants you back more often and for longer periods of time. Time is money — literally. Companies are able to monetize our time more efficiently today than at any other time in history. If you don’t control how you spend your time on these platforms — they will. That’s the point of notifications. To control your time, control your notifications.

Peak Performance

When are you at your best? It’s when you’re focused, totally engaged in the moment at hand. You create these moments. They are not dictated to you by a ding or a buzz. When you’re in these peak moments, you are not immediately switching to other tasks. Other tasks can wait and will wait. Peak performance demands they must wait. Notifications aren’t for a person, they’re for ‘Users’.

We’re much more than Users. I fired a vast majority of notifications a long time ago. I’ve never regretted it.

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