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4 MIN READ

Switching Off Distractions to Get More Productive

Summary: Studies show constant notifications split our attention so much that we actually drop up to 10 I.Q. points, a larger effect than smoking marijuana. This article details how to manage those common platform alerts (email, channel-based messaging and social media) to minimize distractions when chunking time and working on projects that require full attention.


In our Work From Anywhere World where we are working from anywhere more than ever, it is increasingly important to block off time to successfully complete our tasks. Research has consistently shown that humans do not multitask well, especially when switching between focused, complex tasks of modern business, such as writing, coding, designing, etc. In fact, a study from the University of London found that these constant notifications split our attention so badly that they lower our I.Q. by 10 points, a larger effect than smoking marijuana.

One of the most common practices to do is to divide up our daily working hours, as we like to call “chunking”. This means focusing 100% of your time on a certain task instead of trying to juggle everything at once.   

Read more: “Managing Time More Effectively when Working from Anywhere Through Chunking.

Yet there are obviously obstacles to staying focused, including the multiple tools we use to Get Smart Stuff Done (aka GSSD) and stay connected to others. From email to instant messaging to social media, distractions include those pesky pop-ups, dings, vibrations, pings, texts and other forms of notification alerts. But when a person is working on a task that requires focus (which pretty much includes everything we do), as soon as a notification comes through, our attention goes elsewhere. Such interruptions require us to stop, then regain focus, figuring out where we left off, which results in the task becoming more time consuming and increasingly more complex.

With this in mind, and to help us increase productivity while working, we have compiled a few tips on how to manage some of the more common notifications to allow for more effective chunking with less distraction, especially for those Rocks, Tasks and To-Dos requiring full attention. 

Managing Notifications on Common Email Platforms

1. Gmail
  • On your computer, open Gmail.
  • In the top right, click Settings and then See all settings.
  • Scroll down to the Desktop notifications section.
  • Select New mail notifications “on,” Important mail notifications “on,” Managing Notifications on Common Email Platforms, Mail notifications “off.”
  • At the bottom of the page, click Save Changes.
2. Outlook
  • Click on Select File, then go to Options and then Mail.
  • Under Message arrival, select or clear the Display a Desktop Alert check box and then select OK. (To suppress or enable other notifications such as sounds, and mouse pointer changes, check or clear the respective check boxes for those functions.)
3. Yandex 
  • Click on Settings in the upper-right corner.
  • Choose Other.
  • Click Show new message notifications in browser in Notifications.
  • Select the folders you want to configure notifications for.
  • Save the changes.

4. Zoho Mail

Zoho Mail preset doesn’t enable notifications, if you want to turn them on your desktop: 

  • Go to Settings and select System.
  • Turn on notifications by clicking on the Notifications Enable button located next to Desktop Notifications (or Notifications desktop).

Managing Notifications on Common Instant Messaging Platforms

1. Slack
  • Select Preferences  from the menu to open your notification preferences.
  • From your desktop, click your profile picture in the top right.
  • Select under Notify me about, choose your notification triggers.
  • To use different triggers for your mobile notifications, check the box next to Use different settings for my mobile devices, then select your preference from the drop-down menu.
  • To disable notifications for threads, uncheck the box next to Notify me about replies to threads I’m following.
2. Teams
  • Select your profile picture.
  • Select Settings and click on Notifications.
  • Change the settings to what you want.
3. Google Chat

You automatically get notifications when you create or respond to a message and/or are mentioned in a message or room. You can turn off automatic notifications, or customize your notifications by checking the boxes for: 

  • Device
  • Conversation
  • Room
  • Thread

Managing Notifications on Social Media Accounts

1. Facebook

  • Click on the arrow in the top right of Facebook.
  • Select Settings & Privacy, then click Settings.
  • Click Notifications on the left.
  • Click to adjust how you get notifications and what you get notified about.


2. Linkedin

  • Tap the Profile icon in the navigation bar.
  • Tap the Settings icon in the upper right corner.
  • Tap the Communications tab.
  • Tap to select On LinkedIn, Email or Push to make changes.
  • Select or unselect the categories you'd like to receive notifications for by switching the toggle next to each option or tapping the checkbox next to each category.

3. Twitter

  • In the top menu, tap your profile icon.
  • Select Settings and privacy.
  • Tap Notifications, then tap Push notifications and select which types of notifications you would like to receive.

4. Instagram

  • In the mobile app, from your profile, tap the menu icon, select Settings, tap on Notifications, and choose which alerts you want to disable.
  • On your desktop, go to your profile, click Settings, tap on Notifications, then select the alerts you want to turn off.
  • If you don't want to disable alerts, you can choose to receive them only from specific activities or groups of users.

Managing Notifications in Ninety

  • There are two main methods of non-app notifications in Ninety, text and email.
  • Emails can provide a daily reminder of tasks.
  • Texts are pushed only when there is a to-do or Rock due.
  • In User Settings, you can choose the day/time to get these notifications.

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Topics: Technology

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