Notifications Rule Our Lives

No matter where we go these days our phones are always with us. They keep us in touch with the wider world.

I feel like my brain has an invisible connection to the internet. In a way the internet is just an extension of our minds. We can find out about pretty much anything that takes our interest with just a few taps on a screen.

Always being connected does have it’s downsides though. Our concentration is constantly being interrupted by notifications. You hear that characteristic buzzing sound and instinctively look at your phone. We don’t even have to think about it anymore. It’s become a reflex.

Why do we let notifications rule our lives like this?

Many people have a fear of missing out. They need to know about everything. Every blog post. Every email. Every drunken picture posted to their friends facebook page. But what if we just turned it all off? Would we really miss out on anything? What if we cut out all the noise and just made things simple again.

A few months ago I did exactly that. I was finding it hard to concentrate under the constant bombardment of notifications. A lot of which really weren’t that important. So I just turned them all off, and it feels great. I’ve got my productivity back

I think a lot of app developers add notifications without really considering what impact they will have on their users. Sure, it’s a great way of reminding someone that your app exists but is the information really so important that the user needs to know right this minute. Could it not wait until the next time the user opens the app?

Over time I’ve turned a few things back on. I get notifications for messages that hit my priority inbox in gmail now, but most other apps remain muted. I feel liberated. Finally I can focus on my work without being constantly interrupted.

If you suffer from this problem too, try turning off all the notifications on your phone for a week. You won’t be missing out on much.