Combatting Notification Fatigue
I still remember the day when I realized that I could turn off the little red notification badge that alerted me about unread emails in my inbox. No longer would that red badge pull me away from whatever I was doing. I felt as if I had reclaimed some sanity in a world full of constant alerts and notifications.
There are only a handful of programs on my computer and phone that I have set to display the red badge or send a push notification. I’m the type of person that has to check on every incoming message or alert as soon as possible so that I can either follow up right away or set myself a reminder to do so later. My experience has shown me that many millennials fall into the same bucket of (borderline) O.C.D. when it comes to controlling alerts and notifications. This is in an effort to stay focused in a world full of distractions. That’s why I’m always excited to see functionality in programs that allows you to go beyond just turning notifications on or off.
Slack, our office’s favorite program, recently added the option to set reminders for a message at a later time. Previously, if I had received a message from a teammate that required follow-up, I’d mark the message as unread so I wouldn’t forget about it. Now there is a setting that allows me to remind myself about the message in either 20 minutes, an hour, three hours, tomorrow or next week. This is one small step for Steve, and one giant leap for my ability to focus.
Along with strict notification settings, I’ve found that setting up your digital workspace can be just as effective at keeping you focused. On my work computer, I have four screens set up (or spaces as El Capitan likes to call them). The first three screens are where I do the bulk of my work. The very last screen houses my email program.
I previously had my email showing on my third screen and my calendar on the fourth. Every time I went to my calendar to set up a meeting or confirm availability I’d glance at my email and often never make it to my calendar. Next thing I knew, it was 20 minutes later and I still hadn’t set up that meeting. While I do spend a good chunk of time reading and responding to emails, I try to limit looking at my inbox to just a handful of times throughout the day. This allows me to stay focused and finish my tasks that have to get completed.