Meat-Ax Your Notifications

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

I’ve long advocated for drastically reducing the number of notifications your digital devices are allowed to produce. Earlier this year, I recommended the following in a footnote:

Years back, I turned off nearly all notifications and badges on my phone, and I highly recommend it. I let texts through, along with emails from VIPs and a tiny number of other things. For everything else, I’ll get to it when I get to it. I strongly encourage everyone to give it a try. It’s a vastly better way to live your life.

The artificial urgency device notifications create is unnecessary, and probably unhealthy. Very few notifications are actually time-sensitive, yet far too many of us let our phones take us out of the moment needlessly.

It turns out Apple CEO Tim Cook agrees, as revealed in a recent podcast interview with Outside magazine:

Tim Cook: [S]o the action I took was I started asking myself, why do I need all these notifications?

Roberts: Right.

Cook: Why do I really need this? Do I really need to understand things in the moment that they’re happening? And you know — and I started taking a meat ax out to some of these things that would grab my attention but didn’t need to in the moment —

Roberts: Mm-hmm.

Cook: — to free me up to do other things. So — yeah. I learned — like I think like probably most people underestimate how much they’re using it.

Until now, I never had a catchy name for my advice. Now, thanks to Cook, I do. Henceforth, my suggestion that most people should turn off most notifications will be referred to as “meat-axing”. Take back your life! Meat-ax your notifications!


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