Action, Focus

How To Stop Work Based Notifications Destroying Your Productivity

Are notifications taking over the world? They may be one of the most frequently used, yet unproductive features of modern technology. A few weeks into my entrepreneurial journey I decided to take note of how many times in a day I was distracted by a work based notification, e.g. a banner popping up on my phone, a call coming in, a desktop pop up via Outlook or a message delivered on Slack. To be honest, I lost count by about 11am as it was very clear that my day was being seriously chopped up by this constant stream of attention seeking activity. So, I set out to make a change. Here is how I did it, and how you can too!

Activate Solution Quest – Being a lover of advice I asked a few friends, co-working companions, and even had a gander on Quora to see if others had this problem and how they overcome it, before planning to trial a potential fix that I thought would suit me based on the feedback I received.

Initiate Test Phase – To start with I selected three tasks that I estimated would take me about 20 minutes each to complete. I then chose a 60 minute set on SoundCloud, it was an upbeat instrumental piece aimed at keeping me motivated. Then I did the unthinkable…turned my phone onto Do Not Disturb, closed Outlook and Slack, and even closed Chrome as I wouldn’t need it until the third task on my list! Headphones went in and thus began my first Power Hour.

Analyse, Analyse, Analyse– After the hour was over I made sure to take stock of everything: what I had achieved, what I had missed, how I felt and who I had pissed off. Top of the list, I had successfully tackled all three tasks that I had set out to, it was a pretty good feeling! I had missed one call, a few new emails had come in, no one had directly mentioned me on Slack and I didn’t bother to check social media to avoid further distraction. The cool thing I realised from the test, switching off wasn’t the end of the world, everything that was outstanding after that hour could be tackled in a few minutes, bringing me back up to date and feeling great.

Re-Test – I conducted a couple of varied test runs, tackling larger single tasks and then a heap of smaller tasks over 60 minute periods, all the while seeing a really productive outcome from each test and managing to get back up to speed with anything missed in only a few minutes afterwards.

Celebration Time – The results of my tests clearly supported the actions and I felt pretty comfortable that I had come across a method to increase my productivity that suited my work style.

As a result of this little exercise I now implement Power Hours a few times each working day, and have started seeing awesome results and feeling way more productive at the end of a work day and week. On top of this I have stopped almost all push notifications for email, Slack and social media across my devices and not missed them one bit!

Now an hour may not suit you or your work style, so test the theory out before diving in. After researching similar working styles a little further I came across the Pomodoro Technique, which suggests 25 minutes is the optimum period for this sort of activity and that this method of working really improves productivity.

I would like to challenge you to try and “switch off the notification noise” and focus for any period of time during your working day. You will hopefully see an amazing increase in your productivity or focus and be better prepared for achieving your daily or weekly goals.

If you already have a productivity technique that helps you zone in and stay focused I would love to hear about it.