Do you really need that notification?

It’s hard to get work done when being constantly interrupted. Unless business people proactively address the level of interruptions they run the risk of being busy but not effective. Technology is an area that’s demanding our attention but are all the urgent notifications necessary?

For years productivity consultants like myself have suggested adding reminders when to action pieces of work. For example, an entry in an email calendar (whether that be a meeting or scheduling work). However, it’s not a blanket rule and needs to be taken into context with other applications. With task functionality (unless actioning the less important work is time specific) my preference is a less is more approach (for a lot of people there’s simply too many tasks). Therefore, don’t add a reminder and action tasks in the gaps between the important work scheduled in the calendar.

As the usage of mobile devices has penetrated our everyday life we’re now getting notifications from so many apps. Don’t expect the situation to ease because push notifications boost app engagement by 88% (Source: Localytics Data Team). This is where times have changed dramatically as apps are literally fighting for our attention.

The problem is we’re letting it happen and we need to recalibrate our thinking because all work isn’t urgent. I’ve seen countless people get multiple notifications every few minutes. Their phones are lit up like a Christmas tree and when I ask why the most common response is it wasn’t important. The thing is we know interruptions and productivity don’t mesh well. What we need to do is to dampen “the noise.”

I liken this somewhat to a holiday to New York. It was said to me that I should stay around Times Square “in the city that never sleeps” (the moniker is because the subway system doesn’t close) as there’s always something going on. While that sounded good in theory, I needed to be able to choose when I rest, otherwise I’ll be too exhausted. I stayed where it’s quieter on the Lower East Side. If we don’t treat the notifications on apps the same way then we run the risk of getting exhausted from them.

Remove reminders from unimportant apps if you can. If you’re unable to do so then consider changing the sound, turning the volume down or even switching off the device completely. Don’t let the unimportant overrule the important work. Those who do this are less busy but more effective.