i m steve

A Week Without Notifications

Sun 05 Feb 2014

If you owned a smartphone running modern os, be it iOS, Android or Windows, notifications are no strangers. It’s part of the system, and a great assistant for reminding what you have to do & alerting you what’s pending that needs your attention.


When there’s notification coming in, I would very likely pause what I am doing for a moment, to check over the phone.

I have a compulsive behaviour about notifications. That is whenever I see the red badges count, I have to clear it right away, leaving no trace of anything undone on the device. Sometimes, it means I have to go through emails & messages; sometimes, it means I have to read post after post, simply to make the badges go away. Besides, curiosity of what’s coming in is also sufficient to have you do that – Most of the people I know would also read thru their notifications as soon as possible if not immediately.

The impact of this is huge but often unnoticed. It interferes with your routine & decreases productivity, and it also creates tension particularly when the notifying content is work-related.


For a week, turn off all the notifications & badges count possible on the devices, leaving only call log.

I have conducted an experiment last week, where most of the notifications settings were disabled, to see how it will turn out. During the course of the experiment, only after every few hours, I would grab my phone to launch apps that I cared about to see if there’re things pending for me to response/read. For anything that needs quick response, phone call is the way to go.

To my surprise, nothing urgent has been missed, while I could have more time staying focused on tasks. The time allocated to each task are very quality as there’s no interruption & context switching, and pressure-free. More importantly, the phone is no longer daunting as if there’re always something pending for you to follow-up – feeling like Inbox Zero for a moment.

I probably would extend this experiment a bit with some tweaks, say, only disable notification on messaging related app or disable only during certain day hours. Hopefully this shall continue to provide significant gain.

At your own pace

Computers & Mobile (Technologies) were invented to save our time, so that we can have more free time.

They meant to save our time, ironically though, it’s consuming more of your free time. Control your pace, and decide when to leverage technologies to consume the information that you want at your own schedule. Don’t let technology consume your time! Give the above a try.