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Monday, May 27th, 2019, 7:06 am

Want to be Efficient? Disable Notifications. Read and Reply in Large Batches.

Resisting temptations is a lot easier when they never show up

Got mail

Productivity is — and has long been — a habit or hobby of mine; my blog has a whole section dedicated to it (since 2004). Some people wrongly accuse me of being a “bot” even though everything I post I always post manually (I use 3 computers in tandem, but that’s about workspace, not automation). The culprit which needs to be eliminated is obtrusive “push” as opposed to “pull”; push is when someone tells you what to pay attention to, whereas pull is when you’re totally in control of your workflow and you habitually ‘pull’ updates when time is available or the mind is blank (end of some mental backlog).

15 years ago I wrote down some “Efficiency Tips” and years later I wrote some blog posts about how I manage mail, filtering etc. I have hardly written anything on the subject since then. Over the past decade (or more) a new creeping threat to people’s sanity has emerged; it was further popularised by social (control) media and then spread to other platforms that imitate it (with the notion of notifications, not just in a designated area/page but also persistent somewhere on the screen, urging to be clicked). For people who crave constant attention there’s an element of addiction right there. I too was vulnerable to it.

I read E-mail about once a day (and for those who might send urgent messages I made it clear, reducing the expectation of a fast response; they can pick up the phone in case of urgency). To avoid temptation to open messages in the queue do not download E-mail and keep the E-mail client shut.

But E-mail is to many people “yesterday’s technology”… now there’s a small number of companies — often foreign ones that mine data — controlling people’s communications.

Suppress notifications and read them (and reply) once a day, sometimes even less often depending on the nature of replies and importance of their promptness (some platforms ‘move’ faster than others).

Notification bars can also be hidden, if not in site settings then by moving windows out of view (outside the screen). It’s not always simple to achieve and it depends on the site. It’s almost always possible… somehow.

Reading one notification at a time (not clustering related ones) is just about the worst one can do and the most distracting thing. There’s no way to keep one’s train of thought, concentration suffers, and multitasking results in mental clutter. I’ve seen people who have fallen into the trap of renting (‘owning’) a survrveillance device (they call it ‘phone’) and it constantly bugs them with updates that they attend to. Not good. They don’t even focus on their workout at the gym; so what’s the point even going there?

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