Having recently acquired a ‘regular’ Android phone, after several years either without a smart phone or with a de-Googled one (that’s a whole other story…) I got a slice of the default behaviour of these devices. Push notifications - constantly. I had a BlackBerry a decade ago - the device that drove this push notification culture on mobile devices - and it was nicknamed the CrackBerry for a reason.

If you enjoy that experience, go for it. Maybe you’re the sort of person who would thrive in an environment where from the moment you wake up to the moment you fall asleep, someone calls you or knocks on your door every few minutes, requesting your immediate attention. Personally, I find the constant notficiations are incompatible with deep work, and they also have poor effects on my mood and sleep.

I turn all forms of notification off, on all devices and programs. Not just silent, actually off - I do not get notified. For example, I check email a few times a day, and am otherwise oblivious to what’s going on there. Same goes for Twitter, the news, the weather, cool new podcasts or YouTube videos, Zoom, Teams.

This works pretty well. People seem generally aware and OK with the fact that a same-day response is possible but not assured. I do generally get at least some form of reply to people within one working day. If there’s an actual discussion to be had, then synchronous communication (e.g. physical meeting / Zoom) is more efficient anyway.

What about genuinely urgent messages? Well, I can always be contacted by SMS text messaging on my personal mobile - that’s my sole push-notification system and I always have it on me. It doesn’t get used much by people outside my immediate family, although several people at work have the number. I guess that just the small amount of friction of having to do something other than send an email acts as a reminder that sending a message that is received as a push notification is an interruption; it is saying that the issue needs my immediate attention.