Off the Notification Treadmill

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Some time back, I came across a post at The Verge on "How to Read a Book a Week." The advice is solid and well-taken, but not all new to me. (It will also be worth the extra time to read, "How I Became a Morning Person, Read More Books, and Learned a Language in a Year," linked within.)

Regarding one tip, I'll add something I did some time ago, as a means of approximating it. Item 4 in Chris Plante's post concerns electronic distractions, including notifications:

We have inundated ourselves with distractions under the illusion of productivity. Notifications should help us look away from our phones, notifying us when something is important enough to merit our attention. But instead, they've been perverted with updates on sports scores and alerts that a high school friend commented on a photo your mother uploaded to Facebook four years ago. Notifications aren't notifications; they're their own hobby wearing the costumes of a necessary activity.

When you read, put your phone on airplane mode. Turn off the TV. Prepare yourself a snack in advance. Reduce the number of potential distractions as best you can. Because if you don't already read regularly, your old habits won't want to make room for a new one. [bold added]
A few months ago, I noticed that my phone's notification light had become useless and, in the interest of being able to tell when something really did merit my attention, learned more about how to change its settings. I discovered, much to my relief, that I could limit notifications app-by-app, and immediately restricted them accordingly. (It was also, around this time that I declared "email bankruptcy.") Now, when I do see the little blue light, it usually is something I need to react to at once. And a happy side-effect has been exactly what Plante achieves with airplane mode: I have been able to ignore my phone most of the time. Perhaps this will help others who, like me, seldom have the option of completely tuning things out.

-- CAV

No comments: