Want to Cut Down on Phone Usage? Shut Off Notifications

Too much smartphone time can become a distraction

Smartphones have become a part of our everyday lives. A 2018 Deloitte report indicates that 9 out of every 10 Australian owns a smartphone, and the proportions continues to grow.

But these gadgets can quickly become a distraction. From social media to streaming to run-of-the-mill tasks like checking emails, you could end up spending hours and hours on your smartphone without even planning on it.

And with the coronavirus pandemic hitting the world hard, most of us have found ourselves staying at home for longer periods, due to measures taken by the government to keep COVID-19 in check. That increased time we’ve had has lead to a spike in phone usage, even when the normal usage rates were already so high.

If you’re looking for a way to cut down on your phone usage, you’re not alone. Over 40 percent of Australians are worried that their smartphones have become a distraction, keeping them from focusing on the things they really should be doing.

In this post, we’ve come up with a highly effective suggestion to help you reduce your smartphone time – just turn off your notifications. Read on to find out more.

Apps are jealous – they seek your attention with pesky notifications

App developers want your time – as much of it as possible. Your apps come with notification capabilities that alert you whenever they need your attention. This could happen when you get an email, or a message from a friend on WhatsApp, or a friend request on Facebook, and so on.

Social media apps are the most jealous out there – they feel the need to notify you even when it’s not important. For instance, Instagram might notify you with suggestions of people to follow, even if you never asked. Such an app might also notify you whenever anybody you follow updates their status or posts something, no matter how irrelevant.

The whole idea of such notifications, again, is to get your attention. Once your attention is in the bag, you’ll be lured with other updates, posts, and suggestions to stay longer than what the actual notification was about.

The good news – you can turn off each jealous app’s notifications

If you keep getting distracted by your attention seeking apps, shut off their notification capabilities. All smartphones will allow you do this, and its a handy tool to get come much needed time away from your device.

Shutting off notifications isn’t universal – it is app-specific. That way, you can only mute the apps that are the most distracting, and leave the important apps on – for instance, your phone call and email apps.

The steps to turn off notifications vary by phone, but they’re pretty much similar. Here’s a quick walk through:

  • iPhone users
    Open your Settings app > tap Notifications > scroll down to the app you want to stop notifications for > toggle “Allow Notifications” to off. You can also limit the app’s notifications instead of a complete shut down, by setting where and how the notification can be delivered (Lock Screen, Notification Center, and Banners). Do this by toggling Sounds and Badges on or off.
  • Android users
    Go to Settings > tap Apps & notifications > Notifications > App notifications > scroll to the app you want to shut notifications for and toggle it off. Like iPhones, Android phones also allow you limit notifications instead of a complete shut down. Just change sound, vibration, and other settings.

notifications on an Android device

List of apps under Apps & notifications on an Android device. src

In sum

Both iPhones and Androids give you the option of a complete notification shut off. That is, rather than turn off notifications for specific apps individually, you can put all your apps to sleep. There are also options to prioritize which apps can notify you during a general notification shut off, so that you don’t miss important alerts or get distracted by unimportant ones.