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Disable notifications

danlebrero profile image Dan Lebrero Originally published at danlebrero.com Updated on ・1 min read

As part of my job as a reluctant architect, I have the privilege of teaching a “developer productivity” course, where I outline basic points that have helped me become a more efficient developer during my career.

I want to share one of those points today, one that will have a huge productivity impact with minimal effort:

Disable the email pop up notifications.

You don't even want to see the number of unread emails in your taskbar.

In fact, you don’t need to see any notifications. Disable them all.

Don’t let them break your concentration.

Discussion

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kr428 profile image
Kristian R.

This possibly should include all kinds of notifications, at least once in a while in order to stay focussed. Disable notifications. Shut down apps that don't support disabling notifications. Mute your phone(s). But make sure this works in your environment and your corporate culture. Actually, making the shift to a working mode where this kind of uninterrupted work is possible might not be trivial and something you don't start just by "virtually going offline". ;)

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Dan Lebrero Author

Your last statement made me laugh :).

Maybe I distilled the post too much, but in one of the drafts I had something like:

"Your team lead should be the one dealing with the interruptions and external communications. The hard life of the team lead."

Thanks for the comment!

Dan

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kr428 profile image
Kristian R.

You're welcome. Yes... the hard life of the team lead. That's pretty much it. ;)

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel Fayard 🇫🇷🇩🇪🇬🇧🇪🇸🇨🇴

Hello @danlebrero ,

Technical tip: I see that you maintain a series of articles manually.

dev.to has native series feature for that.
See it in action here dev.to/jmfayard/configuring-gradle...

I admit it's well hidden:

  • Edit your post
  • At the right of the tabs input field, click on the menu ...
  • Here enter your series name
  • Rince and repeat for your other articles
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danlebrero profile image
Dan Lebrero Author

Thanks a lot! This was really useful!

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Chris Raser

This is great advice. Notifications are a horrible, attention-breaking plague on humanity.

On the other hand, when my boss emails me, I kind of need to see that immediately. So disabling notifications across the board isn't feasible. There's an interaction between technolgy and work culture here that isn't trivial.

I've had limited success building out rules in Outlook/Gmail/Mail that control if/when I see notifications. The problem is that every email client I've seen applies a rule immediately when the email arrives. What I really want is something more like an SLA: "I want to read incoming email within 15 minutes, and reply within 30 minutes."

Years ago, I threw together a bit of AppleScript I called my languishing email script. (That script is really old. You have been warned.) It scanned my inbox, and popped up a little notification if an email had been unread for longer than 10 minutes, or I hadn't replied to it within 20. My daily email-related interruptions went from 40-50 to a handful.

I'd love to know of a service/plugin/app that does this for all the common email clients/services. I think there's plenty of demand for something that offers more expressive & flexible email handling rules.

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Dan Lebrero Author

Hi Christopher,

Thanks for sharing your experience. As a developer, I would hate if my boss expected me to be so proactive with email. S/He should be the most understanding and the most interested on me being as productive as possible.

Of course, not all circumstances are the same, so this is just general advice. There is no such thing as a "best practice" that applies to each and every situation.

Regarding your question about email rules, I think you have a business or open source idea there. :)

Thanks again!

Dan

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andy profile image
Andy Zhao (he/him)

It's funny, I used to have a Chrome extension that pinged me every time I got a new email from my Inbox (not Gmail). It was great, since I was looking for a new job and wanted to respond ASAP when someone sent me something.

Then I got a job, and realized how little I need to check my email. The Chrome extension notification was a lot more of a nuisance, so I axed a few weeks ago.

Happy to say that I'm notification free for the most part. :)

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Dan Lebrero Author

Jobseekers may have different requirements ;)

Thanks for sharing!

Dan

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Mac Siri

This is so easily overlooked. Took me a while to realize just how much I am slowed down by staring at my unread email counter.

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Dan Lebrero Author

Indeed, it has some kind of hidden insidious time sucking superpower that is very hard to detect :)