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19 February 2021

Deep Work: Disable All Notifications

by Željko Filipin


After reading Deep Work by Cal Newport I’ve noticed how much I’m constantly being distracted by both my phone and computer. The distractions were fragmenting my attention, making it hard to work for long periods of time on hard tasks. I’ve decided to disable all notifications. On both devices. 🤐


I was already in the habit of having only things that I’m currently working on on my computer desktop. Also, I’ve only had applications that I’m currently using open. I usually use Firefox for browsing and I had only a few tabs open at any time. Unfortunately, I’ve usually had the most distracting tabs open: chat and mail. I’ve decided to disable all operating system and browser notifications. Now, I have mail or chat open in a tab only while reading messages. After I’m done, I close the tabs.

I’m surprised how much applications or sites don’t like notifications disabled. They think I immediately need to know about, and react to, every single thing they think is important. There is a slight chance that I want Keep to let me know about a reminder, but I see no reason why Drive would notify me. 🤷‍♂️

Google Keep

Google Drive


My phone has been in silent mode for weeks, if not months. The best decision I’ve made in a long time. Please notice a little crossed bell at the top of the screen. 🔕


Please also notice how many messaging applications I use. Some for work, some privately. I have not only set my phone to silent and disabled notifications. I’ve also configured applications not to show if they have new messages. If I want to check messages, I have to open each app separately. Only then will I see new messages. I don’t want to be distracted by messages if I open my phone to do something else.

Some applications really don’t like having notifications disabled. They will constantly remind you to enable them. No matter how many times you’ve dismissed the notice.


I had to step back from disabling all notifications. Turns out, some notifications are useful. You don’t need to immediately know when you receive a mail or a message. That can usually wait for hours, if not days. You do usually want to know if somebody is calling you. Calendar notifications are also useful. For example, that you have a meeting in 5 minutes.


You might be surprised to hear that my phone is in silent mode all the time, but I still get notifications. I’ve decided to try out enabling select notifications on my watch. I have Polar Vantage M sports watch that I mostly use to track my running. I wouldn’t call it a smart watch. I doesn’t have apps or touchscreen. It connects to my phone via Bluetooth and can notify me (with vibration) if I have a call or a calendar event. That turned out to be the best compromise.

tags: featured - photo - productivity