If you were to set out to devise the most annoying and ineffective system for project management, you had probably come up with something where a sound or alert interrupted you every time a new message comes in, commandeering your attention and while you are busy doing something else.
And yet that is precisely how most of us work everyday—in the most productivity-wrecking manner possible. Study after study shows that switching tasks causes us to work less effectively and efficiently, with some research suggesting we lose as much as 40% of our productivity by hopping between multiple things.
So, stop fighting your brain’s nature and set up a system that works with your brain instead of against it. I personally have almost every noise notification turned off on both my laptop and cell phone. Pick a handful of designated times throughout the day to deal with email, chats, social media. Some maybe a few times a day – mid-morning, after lunch, and late afternoon—and then stop peeking at your notifications outside of those windows.
Set yourself up for success by keeping your apps closed by default and open only during the times you actively need it.
If you’re worried about missing any urgent incoming messages—messages that actually demand immediate attention and can’t wait a couple hours for a response—take a few minutes to create custom notifications that’ll alert you only about those highest-priority messages.
The result is a win-win: You will manage your time more efficiently by tackling new messages in a small number of dedicated moments, and you will be more focused and productive with the rest of your day without the constant barrage of beeps, blips, dings and ring interruptions. Maybe you will even find an enjoyable music playlist to keep your motivation up!