Silencing iOS notifications: peace of mind

Today I stumbled upon Naveen’s ingenious solution and “signal vs noise” approach towards notifications. Cutting back distractions, especially from our mobile phones, is something that we all need right now. Core medium of distractions on our mobile phones is the notifications channel. In short, that’s what Naveen did:

  • Turned off notifications on less-frequently (or never) used applications.
  • Made sure that all notifications, no matter where they come from, never ‘light’ up the [lock] screen; only appear when swiping into iOS’ Notifications Center. Increases battery life: the screen doesn’t have to wake up a hundred times a day.
  • Turned off all sounds for alerts: the only thing that rings is a phone call. Old-school.

This method is, I dare say, profoundly smart and simple. I tried it right the instant I read it only with two slight variations. I ‘banned,’ as stated in point #2, all notifications from popping up on the lock screen but missed Phone calls, iMessages/texts, and email from specific contacts (thanks to the VIP feature of the iOS Mail.app—love it.) Why? I don’t want to miss missed phone calls (oh, there’s funny logic here but I hope you get the point), texts, and important email. Sometimes these are important and, perhaps, necessary distractions.

Also, I still have sound alerts not only for current phone calls but also for texts, calendar reminders, iOS Reminders, and VIP email (as stated previously). Everything else is silenced. Oh, and it feels so good. The occasional phone call sound is still at large, and, although, I don’t want to miss any new texts I have no problem missing Facebook, Hangout, etc messages. Unfortunately, you can’t silence only VIP emails. Were it possible, I’d opt-in for that.

My only concern now is I’m not sure if I want to deactivate all banner-like notifications from the apps and keep the post-lock screen totally clean unless I swipe into the Notifications Center to check and catch up or I want this vague kind of “quick recap of what’s happened” by the moment I unlock my phone. Tweetbot seems to work fine with banners, Instagram on the other hand always loads ~5 consecutive banners which can become frustrating.

In a more theoretical media and technological context, this notifications organizing system thrives. That’s why I said it “profoundly smart and simple.” Because it transforms a device and a whole interactive technical environment from attention-seeking to, finally, become a calm, almost invisible piece of everyday hardware, which instead of being noisy it’s actually quite silent. Its most important contribution though, I think, is that it somehow re-writes your brain deleting all “Oh, I’m waiting at dinner, let me check my phone” obnoxious type of actions. There isn’t anymore this subconscious anxiety of “something might have happened in my lock screen and I just want to check.” It’s way more productive and relaxing.

If you’re using an iOS device, frequent at many services and apps, are overwhelmed by all the notifications, their demands for your attention for unimportant actions throughout the day, and seriously dislike battery drain I can only recommend Naveen’s notifications system.

posted: May 29, 2013
under: Productivity

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