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Are notifications a good or bad thing ?

Desktop Or Mobile Notifications 

We all have them right ? Notifications on nearly every aspect of our life. Email, social media, text messaging, updates, private messages, appointment reminders – the list goes on. Are they a good or bad thing ?

Well I think that depends on what type of person you are, and how you manage your day to day mass of information that comes your way. It also depends on how organised you are as a person. For example, do you need a device to remind or alert you when the various communication & collaboration tools you use gets content ? – or are you the type of person that has processes in your life where you have a routine that checks your media streams in order at a specific time of the day throughout the day (a list and task driven person) ?


Notifications pure and simply are very distracting. Regardless if you have notifications or not, the content is there, and you can access your email, facebook page, tweets or calendar any time you want. The problem I see with notifications is they are pre conditioning your brain to react to information as it occurs. As the day progresses and the intensity of the incoming data increases – you react to that ever increasing treadmill. You unknowingly are in training for information overload and trading your precious ability and time from proactivity TO reactivity. This can not be good, as it eventially sets the stage for a day that starts with your goals in front of you to a day that ends up reacting to incoming data as it occurs and significantly reducing your productivity. But the bigger effect is what is it doing to your health. Every notification that slaps you in the face when your working, or beeps when your concentrating raises curiosity as to what that pop up message is about. Generally its something that needs attention, so whatever we are working on gets the PAUSE button pressed while we put brain power to our latest notification. BUT half way through that message another pops up, then our attention gets diverted again. Its an insidious ever diminishing circle. Your curiosity turns to anxiety and then exhaustion by the end of the day. If you get to this point you have successfully trained your brain to be attached to your device as it needs to feed off the latest happenings as they occur. My question is – how has this effected your productivity through the day.

I have a challenge for you. Follow these steps below.

  1. If you have notifications poping up as a part of your daily routine, record your productivity in terms of minuets spent on tasks as the day progresses. Do this on a notepad for example.
  2. Note where you divert your attention to when a notification occurs, and IF you react immediately to it.
  3. At the end of the day, asses your overall performance in terms of productivity.

Once you have understood those patterns, follow these stems.

  1. TUNR OFF ALL NOTIFICATIONS On your computer, phone, tablet or device you use as a part of your daily routine.
  2. Set yourself goals on what you wish to achieve for the day in front of you.
  3. Set times of the day to address your social feeds, email, messages and calendar.
  4. Prioritise the information that comes in and note when to deal with it.
  5. Complete the work you set in your goals which includes responce to your prioritized list in step 4 and management of scheduled checking of new content.
  6. Record your productivity on a notepad as you did in the steps above.

Compare your productivity before and after. It would be my guess that your productivity will rise, you will be less stressed – and all those messages you reacted immediately to will still be there as you deal with them in a chronological and organised approach. Further more, the media will be better managed and you will achieve better outcomes due to your management of htem.

I have included another article on this subject FYI



Jarrod Clowes
Senior Consultant
Fusion Business Innovation & Technology