Why “Do Not Disturb” Is My Favorite Smart Phone Setting
For reducing interruptions and improving focus
Have cellphones become more annoying than useful?
Back in the day, one of the major advantages of a cellphone over a landline was that it was largely free of sales calls. Times have changed. My mobile device is now so ridden with spam that I get far more junk calls than real ones. I know I am not alone on this.
Inevitably, those calls come at an inconvenient time. When I am on a peaceful walk with my dog, when I am trying to focus on getting work done, when my kids are telling me about their school day, or when we are sitting down to dinner, to name just a few.
Knowing the junk call is obnoxious at best, illegal and predatory at worst, I feel a twinge of stress in my stomach when I hear the phone ring.
Until recently I solved this by putting my phone on silent all the time and not answering calls from numbers I do not recognize.
However, the notifications would still pop up on the screen. And the other gadgets in my life that talk to my phone, like my watch and my car, would poke me to respond.
Sometimes people I care about had trouble getting in touch with me because I wouldn’t hear the call or text come in.
After playing around with silencing the phone (activated by a switch on the top left) and Airplane Mode (found in Settings), I have settled on Do Not Disturb (also found in Settings) as being the most useful for daily life. Note that I have an iPhone 7. Your device may operate differently.
Why I prefer Do Not Disturb to other options
Flexibility to schedule automatically or set manually
Unlike silent or Airplane Mode which can only be toggled on and off manually, Do Not Disturb can be put on an automatic schedule.
You could, for example, schedule it for 9 pm to 7 am so your sleep is undisturbed. Or, you could schedule it to be on all the time, except a 30-minute window during lunch. Or, you could go all in and set Do Not Disturb to be on by default.
Calls and texts from Favorites still get through
In Do Not Disturb mode, you can select the option to “Allow Calls From Favorites”. So, if you’re worried about your kids or partner not being able to get in touch with you, relax. They can, as long as you have added them to your Favorites.
But all other calls go straight to voicemail. All other texts go straight into the queue, waiting for you when you are ready to view them.
While in Do Not Disturb mode, you can check your phone when it is convenient and see any voicemails or texts that have come in.
Note that this preferential treatment for Favorites is not available in Airplane Mode or when the phone is on silent.
What if I really want to focus and don’t want calls from anyone, even from my Favorites?
While in Do Not Disturb mode, if you also put your phone on silent, then even your Favorites won’t ring audibly. The visual notification will pop up on the screen, but if you are absorbed in something else and not looking at your phone, then you won’t have your concentration broken.
Why I use Do Not Disturb
This setting has transformed my life by eliminating the jolt of stress that I feel when my phone rings, and by eliminating the little pings and notifications throughout the day that break my concentration when I’m trying to get something done.
With this strategy, I have been able to focus for long blocks of time and get into the zone, a deeply productive and satisfying way to work or play.
In this digital age, when quiet and focus are so hard to come by, stretches of unbroken time can feel glorious.
The work you do deserves undivided attention. The people you are with deserve undivided attention. And, just as important, your own thoughts deserve undivided attention.
Give yourself the gift of uninterrupted time.