How often do you receive notifications throughout the day? Think of everything from new text message notifications and phone calls to the chimes that sound whenever a new email comes in. If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you’re being bombarded with notifications, and whether you realize it yet or not, it’s killing your productivity.
Notifications are an issue for a few major reasons. Most notably, they serve as a distraction. Whether it’s the popup of a red number on your favorite app, a vibration or a sound notification, these alerts are designed to get your attention. They’re practically impossible to ignore. If you’re working on something important, your focus is going to drift, and your effectiveness will immediately decline. Some studies suggest it takes a full 23 minutes to recover your focus after a distraction, meaning each new notification could be compromising your full focus for up to 23 minutes.
Of course, these temporary distractions are just the beginning. Oftentimes, notifications are a call to some other time-stealing requirement. For example, one of your employees might send you an instant chat message asking you a few questions about a project; once this gets your attention, you’ll feel compelled to write out an answer.
Notifications can also be somewhat addictive. Social media apps, for example, design themselves to produce dopamine releases like slot machines, conditioning us to anticipate notifications so much that we feel phantom notifications at random intervals. We might even feel anxiety or very mild withdrawal-like symptoms if we go too long without notifications.
These issues wouldn’t be so problematic if it weren’t for three important compounding factors, which exacerbate these negative effects:
Because of this, most of us have become slaves to the call of notifications, and our productivity is suffering as a result.
Here’s a bold idea: Turn off notifications for everything. This is the obvious solution that none of us actually want to consider. We might be slightly deterred by the manual effort required to hunt down and change settings for dozens of apps and services, but it’s more likely that we’re deterred by fear. We’re afraid of missing an important notification when we need it most.
So how can we assuage this fear while still improving control over our notification bombardment?
There are a few more manageable solutions:
Notifications don’t seem like a big deal, but in sufficient volume, they can sabotage your productivity. If you don’t do anything and let notifications rule your working life, it’s going to work against you. Come up with a strategy that allows you to minimize the number of notifications you receive while still giving you the communicative access you need.
Originally seen on Entrepreneur