Don’t Ignore Push Notifications

Mar 27, 2015
Joe Buhlig
~2 mins

I was enjoying one of our first daddy-daughter dates. Of course, it was at a coffee shop. It was great! I drank my coffee and Cutie watched the constant movement of people between bites of her cookie.

It didn’t bother Cutie, but it was driving me crazy. The lady behind us had something in her purse that would ding every minute or so. She did nothing! She just left it there. After about 15 minutes of this, her friend must have had enough as well. The friend asked if everything was ok. The lady finally pulled out her phone to check it and realized that her son was waiting on her at school. Her only comment as she was frantically leaving, “Why didn’t he text me earlier?!”

She was completely oblivious! You have a device in your purse that can notify you when someone or something needs your attention. What good does it do to have those notifications if you’re going to ignore them?

Ignore one and they lose their value

If you have a device that can notify you in any way, you have to pay attention to it. You can’t check it later. It’s making noises and vibrating to get your focus. If you don’t comply and give it your focus, then there’s no point in it dinging and vibrating at all. It needs you to make a real-time decision. Do I need to act on this right now or not?

If you don’t act on the notification immediately, what happens? You postpone the decision and the action. Why would you postpone it? You might get too many of them or they’re not actually important. And if you postpone it, you’re saying it’s not important enough for you to look at it before making the decision. So now, you’ve devalued the notification and told yourself that they don’t matter.

Only use notifications that matter

I’ve spent a decent amount of time pruning the notifications on my phone. When you think about it, how many things need your attention immediately? Is an email something that needs an immediate response? Wouldn’t they call if it was that important? And chances are that any social media notification can be turned off entirely. If something happens and someone needs you right now, wouldn’t they call or text you?

After a lot of time thinking about it, here are the four types of notifications I receive on my phone:

  1. Phone Calls/FaceTime
  2. Text Messages
  3. Calendar reminders
  4. Omnifocus reminders

What I’ve realized is that I need to check my phone when someone urgently needs me (phone calls/text), when I need to go somewhere or join a meeting (calendar), and when I’m due to complete a task (Omnifocus). These are the only times when something is urgent enough to warrant a notification.

Every time your devices make a sound, pay attention. Check it right away. If you’re in a meeting or scenario that trumps outside communication, turn on Do Not Disturb or Airplane Mode. The point is to make sure that you use notifications intentionally. Make a decision up front and pay attention.