Sat. May 18th, 2024

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Key Takeaways

  • Smartphones are tools and you are in control. You can uninstall apps, turn off notifications and decide how you use your phone.
  • It’s okay to miss things. You don’t need to be notified for everything. Check apps on your own time instead of constantly being interrupted.
  • Take breaks from your phone. Use built-in features on iPhone (Downtime) or Android (Focus Mode) to schedule breaks from notifications.

Feeling pulled in a million directions by your phone’s constant buzzes and pings? You’re not alone. iPhones and Android phones are masters at interrupting our focus and hijacking our attention. But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can take control of your phone and reclaim some peace.

Your Phone Works For You

First and foremost, the most important thing to understand is a smartphone is a tool. When you pick up a hammer, it only does what you want it to do—the same applies to a phone.

This is a common problem that many people have with their smartphones. They complain about apps sucking up their time or notifications constantly bothering them. Not to point fingers, but—who installed those apps? Who allowed notifications? Who has the power to turn them off? You.

You are in complete control of everything that happens on your phone. If there’s a specific app that is bothering you with notifications, turn them off or uninstall the app. It may not always be easy to hunt down where the distractions are coming from, but there is almost always something you can do about it.

It’s Okay to Miss Things

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 (27)

Smartphones have made it very easy to contact anyone (and be contacted) at any time. People are posting on social media at all hours of the day from around the world. There’s always something new to see. FOMO is a big reason why notifications and app usage get out of hand.

Let’s just be honest, there’s a lot of stuff happening on your phone that is okay to miss. You don’t need to enable notifications for every app that asks for it. Maybe you’re a big sports fan and you like to keep up with news on the ESPN app. Is it really critical to your daily life to know the exact moment when an NBA player gets suspended?

It’s much healthier and less interrupting to your life to simply open the app once or twice a day to check in when you have some free time. The same applies to social media apps. Sure, you’ll miss some stuff, but the best stuff tends to bubble to the top. It’ll be okay.

Give Yourself Daily Breaks

A great way to get away from the interruptions for a while is with some regular downtime. Android and the iPhone both have features that allow you to turn off the interruptions temporarily. Only the most important stuff will get through.

On the iPhone, the feature is literally called “Downtime.” It’s intended to be used on a schedule, which is perfect for giving yourself regular daily breaks from distractions. You can choose a time period for it to run and decide which people and apps are allowed to notify you.

Over on Android, the feature you’ll want to use is called “Focus Mode.” iPhones also have a feature with the same name, but it’s slightly different. Focus Mode on Android allows you to quickly block distractions with a handy toggle switch or on a schedule.

How to Make Interruptions More Manageable

Next Notification Summary

Maybe you can’t get rid of all the interruptions completely, but there are ways to make them less of a nuisance. Notifications are a core part of smartphones, and there are tons of tools you can use to fine-tune the experience.

We’ll start with the iPhone again, which probably has the easiest feature for making notifications more manageable. Apple introduced “Notification Summary” with iOS 15, and it does exactly what the name implies. Rather than notifications coming in immediately, they get bundled into a summary that arrives at scheduled times.

Android doesn’t have a Notification Summary feature built-in (though that may change in Android 15). Instead, there are a few separate things to try. You can hide unimportant notification icons from the status bar, stop notifications from popping up over what you’re doing, and disable specific types of notifications from apps.

The moral of the story is you are in control of your smartphone. Don’t ever forget that. There’s almost nothing that can’t be uninstalled, disabled, or turned off. Don’t let your phone be a cause of anxiety in your life.

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By John P.

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