Snap, Crackle, Pop! Is That My Phone, My Laptop, or My Watch?

The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article this week about how many of us are suffering from alert overload.

It could be a calendar alert, a news alert, an email alert, a text alert, etc.

And if there are sounds set to go with those alerts, your phone, laptop, tablet, desktop, or watch will be dinging throughout the day.

But even if you have the sound turned off, you might see a message pop on the screen of whatever devices you have nearby.

It’s happened to me in the middle of teaching. In the 10 minutes I have in between classes, I might, on occasion, check my WordPress stats on my phone (OK, who am I fooling, it’s not on occasion, it’s every time). Then I’ll put my phone down next to my laptop before class is ready to start, and 15 minutes into class I’ll notice an alert pop up on my phone. I try to remember to turn my phone over so that the screen is face down, but sometimes I forget. I do not look at what the alert is for, but I will admit it is very tempting.

I’ve been working on my laptop in my office, and a message from a colleague will pop up on my screen through the Teams app. I didn’t know that was a thing you could do. It certainly captures your attention, and takes you away from what you were doing.

Gloria Mark, a professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine, found that people switch screens an average of 566 times a day. Half the time we’re interrupted; the other half we pull ourselves away. Breaks—even mindless ones like scrolling Facebook —can be positive, replenishing our cognitive resources, Dr. Mark says.

But when something external diverts our focus, it takes us an average of 25 minutes and 26 seconds to get back to our original task, she has found. (Folks often switch to different projects in between.) And it stresses us out. Research using heart monitors shows that the interval between people’s heartbeats becomes more regular when they’re interrupted, a sign they’re in fight-or-flight mode.

So what to do?

Emily Parks, a productivity consultant in Raleigh, N.C., recommends that people turn off notifications for 25 minutes to focus, then take a five-minute break afterward. Those with longer attention spans should aim to hunker down for 52 minutes, then take a 17-minute break. The key to safely logging off email or Slack for a stretch is being transparent – let your boss and colleagues know what your schedule is.

Perhaps the simplest solution of all is to simply turn off all notifications. Some people may have the fear of missing out on something, but if something is that critical, you would hope the sender would pick up the phone or just stop by the person’s office (assuming they are in the office).

So I hereby give permission to all my readers to turn off notifications for when there is a new post from Borden’s Blather. If I ever think I have a post that is mandatory reading, I’ll let you know by copying the entire post and including it as a comment on your blog…

In case you are wondering, after seven years of blogging the number of such posts stands at zero…

*image from Kellogg’s Away From Home

51 thoughts on “Snap, Crackle, Pop! Is That My Phone, My Laptop, or My Watch?

  1. Amongst my friends, family and coworkers, I am notorious for turning off notifications after a certain hour. I also disconnect when I’m on vacation as well. While I love staying connected with friends and family via Whatsapp, a huge part of me doesn’t feel like I’m on a break unless I’m on a break from everything in my ordinary life (those that I am not vacationing with).

    Also, speaking of alarms, I think I’ve developed PTSD from my alarm lol.. I set an alarm for everything! It’s helpful, yet makes me cringe when it goes off! :/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. sounds like you have things under your control, and your contacts are all aware of it – well done.

      And yes, when I take a break, I want it to be a complete break.

      and sometimes I’ll set an alarm, it goes off, and then I forget what it was for… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Notifications annoy me so I turn them off wherever possible. Except for text messages, but I am not that popular so I am never innovated. And calendar reminders because I can be forgetful these days. I check my phone a few times a day for everything else. It is like a nice surprise every time. I still prefer to get a phone call so if someone really wants to get in touch, that’s the best way.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree. Just today my nap was interrupted by a notification from a neighborhood dog that something was going on that it didn’t like. So it yap, yap, yapped, until it woke me up. And then, while I was working on something important (a game of computer solitaire), my wife interrupted me with dinner. And multiple times throughout the day, the call of nature pulled me away from very important duties, so I could go do my doody.

    I tried to turn these notifications off, but only succeeded with the dog, by shutting my windows.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I get notifications on my iphone from Instagram, Whatsapp and SMS, I have not issue ignoring them and don’t even know where my phone is half the time. I get Teams notifications all day long on my work PC and I have not get found a way to turn them off. I have tried but nothing works. I put Teams on my second screen and then they pop up there and don’t bother me. Where there is a will there is a way. PS I am not easily distracted as I am very regimented with my time allocations. Apparently, I am unusual in this …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. sounds like you have found a way that works for you, and a lot of it is because of your self-discipline. And I agree, you are likely in the minority! 🙂


  5. I try not to have alerts going off all around me if possible. They are distracting, and sometimes it interrupts me from whatever I’m working on at the time. I sometimes forget to do this with my phone, which is close to my bed. My east coast brother is an early riser, and he sometimes sends text messages when he arises. I think he forgets I’m three hours behind him. I do not hear well, but I hear that darn notification bell every time, even from a dead sleep. If I answer him then, his following line is, What are you doing up already?”🤣

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I meant to add that I find it quite rude when people I’m with suddenly stop the conversation when someone texts them. I may be aware of mine if I get one, but I don’t look at it the second it comes in and ignore the person right there in front of me.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I don’t have this problem. I leave my cell phone in the car when I go into work. I give it a quick glance at lunch to make sure the world hasn’t imploded. And then forget about it again till after work. I am happy to be living a full life without being attached at the hip to my cell phone.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. I solved this problem by using my phone for phone and text only, use none of the “usual” social media and only check my emails morning and night. I rarely take my phone with me and it spends a lot of time in a drawer or turned off of a night.

    Works for me but does tend to frustrate some people as they consider this to be anti-social.

    Viva la dinosaur!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. the only alarm i have is a wakeup alarm on weekdays, other than that, i hear. nothing from my phone. i do have notifications that pop up, but usually don’t have it near me at work, unless i’m taking pics, and i often have to recruit my class as ‘detectives’ to help me find it in our room. if notifications get annoying when elsewhere, they do tend to be distracting, i’m like a crow with a shiny object, but i never look at it when in conversation with someone else. p.s. i thought with you title that you had another ‘incident with your bones.’

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the only noises my phone makes are for the wakeup alarm and for text messages. Fortunately, I do not get too many text messages. I am sure your kinders are good detectives!

      I wish I had used such a title when I broke my bones! next time…

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I keep most notifications off, but I do keep text notifications and Slack notifications on (for my kids and work, respectively). I’ll glance at the message and decide if it deserves an immediate response or not.

    My parents refuse to text. They call. If there’s an emergency, I’ll definitely hear from them. Then again, if it’s just a social call, I’ll definitely hear from them. But I’d never ignore them or my grandmother, so it’s okay.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds like you’ve got things under control with your kids, with work and with your parents and grandmother!

      My text alerts make a sound, but I think that is it. All the other notications are pop-ups, which are almost as annoying.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I would love to get off everything and throw the phone out the window!!! COVID was so nice that way, when we didn’t have to go anywhere for two weeks then a month…

    I’m serious, though. We’d be much better off! And I mean OFF!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I love your humor and outlook on life, Jim. It always makes me smile and nod my head because I feel the same way. You just say it far better. So, thank you for that.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Smile…my son gets extremely agitated when in the room with me…I never turn mine off…one never knows who it is..and you can’t just pop here and of course, there are the WP stats! …Smile xx

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I get very few notifications of anything new anywhere and ignore most of those I go get at the time I get them. I get to whatever I feel like whenever I feel like, In fact, you should be honored that I am only a week or so behind in reading your posts which is how I “schedule” reading all the blogs that most often make me think, smile, giggle and/or comment!

    Of course, for some odd reason, I don’t get notifications when I receive something I’ve been waiting for!


    1. it is a challenge keeping up with blog posts, especially those annoying people who post every day 🙂

      I get notifications from the Wall Street Journal just so I can stay up with my students!


Comments are closed.