Why I decided to turn all my phone notifications off

I imagine if you are here then you probably have a smartphone and I am also guessing you have reached a same level of annoyance as I recently did.

Oh just before I go further, on the topic of new technology being an annoyance to your mental health, you may find this article interesting I wrote previously: What is Slow Living and what you need to know about it?

Phones are great, sure, I have always mine nearby and if I want to check an information (probably something someone said that I think is wrong *wink wink*), read my emails, buy something, check my social media, a direction on a map, text, and hmm yes call someone, it is there and I do love to have this power of ultra convenience in my hands. I literally have mine next to me right now, that is not the problem. The problem is when the phone starts to interrupt you while you are about living your life and doing so for trivial reasons.

My phone is reaching out to ME by buzzing for my attention, and I felt cut-off from the real world too often.

A new email, a new weather forecast, a new promotion, a new product availability, a new newsletter, a new like&comment on social media, a new version to update, a new tweet, a new video etc.  to bring you back to your phone. It took some time for me to realise how distracted I became in public or event in my own home when I had my phone around me. I got used to a couple of notification popping up and pinging my phone but gradually it has become very uncomfortable to the point I decided to turn them all off.

There has been a serious study done on the subject actually. A study from Carnegie Mellon University proved how 30 volunteers reported feeling “more productive, and less distracted” and with an improved mental health status after disabling app notifications on their phones for 24 hours. Read more about this here.


Gradually – the trap

Gradually – because notifications are originally configured when a new app is installed, and this is quite clever because when you install a new app: it is with excitement! And accepting that the app sends you notifications is something most people will just accept as a formality: “yeah yeah I’d like the notification, just give me that app I want”.

Gradually then, my phone has grown into a constant buzzing “living in the moment breaking device” potentially damaging to my creativity, my attention and more seriously my relationships.

I mean I received 4 notification pop-up from the take-away I ordered online. A bit much I thought.

To tell me they were preparing it, to tell me the delivery man had left, to tell me he was nearby, and to tell me he was here…. The doorbell would have been enough.

One could argue I had control all along and I could just “turn the notification off, but what I am saying is because of its gradual character, you don’t notice how bad it is until it has gotten pretty bad.

Some shopping apps with the pretext of better “shopping experience”are definitely over-doing it with the notifications, but as long as you said “yes” to it, who’s fault is it ?

It cripply grew to reach a situation of constant interruption, every few minutes by a ping with a short preview message on the screen (yes I had also words popping up not just the app name) and I couldn’t help to look at it, distracting me from the present moment I was in and throwing me somewhere else: work because of emails, social media accounts to figure out who would have posted new content, liked or what was commented on some content I like to follow.

So I decided enough is enough. I may miss a few updates (about probably something I can live without anyway) until I check my phone when it is a time appropriate for me, and so I turned them off.

This was a couple of weeks ago and I feel transformed. Really. I even forget my phone sometimes in a room and can be separated from it for a while without feeling I am missing out. It is not just turning the notification off it also a mental thing. Telling your brain, your primitive brain perhaps (?) to stop being a dumb-dumb: “you aren’t missing anything!” until you finally start to believe it.

Now to the how-to part:

How to turn notification off (on ios 12.0)

It is not as easy as pressing one button (surprise surprise).

  • Go to settings app => Notification => Show Preview => set it to Never
  • Then you need to manually go to every single app and turn “Allow Notification” off.

There we have it: an instant gratification moment 🙂 of being left the ** alone.

That feels good, right?

I mean I get it, it is about balance, but right now I just want peace, I will see if I add again the notification about the weather forecast (flash news it is probably rain), and updates about the WhatsApp groups chats I am in (it is either funny and inappropriate or utterly boring).

1. Once on the Settings App, go to Notifications
2. Go to each app to turn off notification
3. Finally! Peace.










and if you want to fully concentrate, then putting your phone on airplane mode once in a while is one to consider.