Notifications: How To Make Your World More Quiet

TL;DR

  1. Hide the Badge App Icon
  2. Set Banners to Temporary and Remove from History
  3. Keep Banners in Lock Screen
  4. Use Do Not Disturb, and Filter Important Contacts
  5. Unsubscribe, All The Things

The 21st century has brought more upon us than just Uber, Apple and Amazon. Every service we sign up to binds us to a constant flooding of newsletters, and special deals. Our apps are constantly notifying us of what we haven’t done and goals that we haven’t achieved. We’re constantly updated on feature improvements, CEO rambles and company achievements.

Is it all necessary?

…is the question I ask myself more than I care to admit on a day-to-day basis. Is it necessary to be constantly bombarded with updates that offer no value in my life? The unequivocal answer is no.

We live in a ceaseless, vicious feedback loop every day. Always on the lookout for the next best thing. In saying that, the next best thing comes with strings attached. Have you ever signed up for a service or app and received 2–3 emails a week from it? Are you one of those people who have 1034 unread emails in their Gmail inbox? I would bet money on the fact that all those emails are updates from services they used once or twice.

Social media platforms exacerbate this problem even more. The ambiguous, red notification icon that appears on our apps is a symbol. A symbol of the loss of focus, as well as a remedy to our need for gratification. Again, I’ll ask the question, is it all necessary?

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably thinking, “What’s your point”. Well, here’s the point. By ensuring a “quiet digital world”, you can adapt your own world. Here’s how I go about it.

Disclaimer: I have an iPhone 8, I’m sure there are other ways and means of achieving this on Android-based devices. I’d be happy to write a follow-up post if there’s interest.

1) Hide the Badge App Icon

When receiving push notifications, an uninformative number appears on your app icon. This notification does nothing but tells you to go do something other than what you should be doing. You can’t do a mass “switch off” of this feature, you have to go into every app you own and switch it off manually.
Sucks. But worth it. 10 points for you if you have the patience for it.

2) Set Banners to Temporary and Remove from History

You don’t need persistent notifications on iOS. Set banners to “Temporary”. Once a notification arrives, it will hide after a time interval.
Switch off “Show In History”.

There’s no need to be aware stale notifications.

3) Keep Banners in Lock Screen

Banner notifications should appear in the lock screen, and that’s it. This helps you keep track of the number of notifications you’re receiving each day. When you unlock your phone, lock screen notifications get cleared.

This helps to focus your attention on important notifications.

4) Use Do Not Disturb, and Filter Important Contacts

Do Not Disturb (DnD) is a great feature on iOS. I use it predominately when I go to bed. I schedule my DnD from 22:00 to 7:00. This prevents all sensory-based notifications (visual, audio, touch). Some days, I’m set on being 100% focused. So, I actually switch on DnD during the day. I still check my phone from time to time, but it filters out the noise and distraction.

What if I have important calls/messages I need to attend to? Well, that depends on your meaning of important. Important to me is family, loved ones, and a select group of friends. All you need to do is add them to your Favourites list. They will filter out of DnD and be able to reach you. What about business calls? I learnt long ago that a frantic client calling you 3 times in 10 minutes is not important, but that’s my opinion. If you’re set on that happening, switch on Repeated Calls. This feature will filter calls from anyone if they call you twice.

I’m a big fan of automation, so to let Favourites know that you aren’t dead in a ditch, switch on Auto-Reply To. This will send a text message to Favourites telling them that you’re busy.

5) Unsubscribe, All The Things

I find email newsletters the most irritating form of communication on the planet. In fact, it’s so intrusive and obnoxious that I changed my personal email address to start afresh. At one point, I didn’t even know how far my original email address had gone on the internet. A scary notion. You can be one of “the 1034 unread emails” human beings, or you could be minimal about it.
When I get an email at my new address it’s either from family, freelance clients or services I use.

Most email newsletters contain “Unsubscribe” links, which are helpful. I’m not convinced if they actually do remove your email from their database though. There are also services like unroll.me which help you clean up your inbox. Unroll.me is incredibly useful if you don’t want to set up a new email address.

I’d also suggest setting up a temporary email account. Maildrop.cc allows you to create a temporary email which is active for a limited time. When signing up for services that you think may add value, use your maildrop.cc account. If they turn out to be worthwhile, update your account settings to use your personal email.

Using the techniques above, your behaviour will begin to gradually change. You won’t feel the need to constantly check your phone. Everyone who you have reached out to, or who need you, will get through to you. You would have streamlined your digital world, removing notifications with no value.

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to reach out to me by using the contact page or get hold of me on Twitter at @dainemawer

Originally published at bminimal.blog on August 22, 2018.

| I tinker with Front-end at 10up.com | Conference Speaker | Writer | Traveller | Runner | Indie Games | Xbox | Coffee | Bourbon

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