Whilst digital technology has transformed our lives beyond recognition, enabling people to connect across the globe, allowing many of us to continue working during the pandemic, and to explore new content, learn new skills and meet new people - it can also be a hugely frustrating thing.
The ‘notifications’ which many of our modern apps create, on an all too regular basis, constantly remind us that someone needs our attention, something needs focus, something needs doing, and all too often, those notifications aren’t essential - but are always distracting.
Unfortunately - the effects of notifications don't stop at distraction - but the constant sense of being in-demand can have a significant impact on our mental health. It can create a sense of not having a moment to ourselves, and always having to react, rather than reflect, and can lead to what psychologists called "learned helplessness", where someone just gives in to repeated knocks and blows, ending up with a sense of not being at all in control of our own situation.
Whilst some might feel like a complete digital detox is the right answer, deleting apps, leaving platforms, escaping to a wifi-free desert island, digging yourself an underground bunker where radio waves cannot penetrate the six inch concrete walls, there are some less drastic ways of escaping the distractions for a shorter period of time whilst you focus on focus - Do Not Disturb mode.
Your devices all have a “turn off notifications” option, which allow you to prevent all apps from interrupting your work temporarily. It’s a really useful tool to give yourself just a few hours of distraction free time.
Here’s how to get it done on the common platforms:
+ Click on the Notifications icon at the top right of the screen (the three little bars)
+ You’ll see all of your notifications in a list, but there’s a hidden feature if you ’scroll up’ the list.
+ The “Do Not Disturb” toggle comes into view, just switch that - and no notifications.
+ And there’s an even quicker route - just Option-Click on the icon - simple!
(See more from Apple)
+ On Windows - Do Not Disturb is called “Focus Assist” or “Quiet Hours”.
+ Right-click on the Notifications icon in the taskbar, and select “alarms only”.
+ Swipe down from the top of the screen - you’ll see an icon called “Do not disturb”.
+ Tap that and set how long you want to be in the DND mode.
+ Swipe up from the bottom of the screen - you’ll see the Do Not Disturb button which looks like a crescent moon.
+ Tap the icon.
Now, what are you going to do with your distraction-free time?