On March 14th I turned off Push Notifications on my iPhone, iPad, and Mac. I no longer get interrupted by text messages, calendar notifications, tweets, email messages, or software updates. If I want to see if I have any new messages I have to check myself.
At first this may seem like a recipe for missing very important notifications the moment they come in. And it is. The only person I’ve made an exception for is my wife Eliza. If she sends me a text message my phone will vibrate and make a chime. If anyone else sends me a text message I simply do not see it until I look. But even though this leads to missing important things from time-to-time I believe I haven’t missed out on a single opportunity that has come my way. It can be very easy to fool yourself into thinking that you need to reply to an email or text message the moment you get it. You don’t.
The important note is that I still look at my phone fairly often – I just choose when I want to.
Since it has been over two months since I made this change I’d like to take it one step further and try to limit the distractions I have even a bit more. I typically keep Gmail (for both personal and business), Tweetbot, Flint (Campfire), Trello, and sometimes an App.net client open on my desktop. I also check Instagram and a few other social networks via my phone a few times a day. I’m going to dramatically reduce the number of times per day that I check these and develop a routine so that I can respond to each of these in a reasonable timeframe that still allows me to eliminate distraction. With the exception of Campfire.
So; no notifications and no apps open unless I want to manually open them. I’m setting a reminder to check back in on this in two months.