Manage your notifications to stay focused

Communication and collaboration tools have made it possible for the world to keep functioning through a pandemic. Technology, overall, has allowed us to thrive in the new work environment. Even before we had to adapt to an all-digital workplace, devices such as cellphones, laptops, and tablets started playing a key role in our daily lives. 

Some cloud apps brought notifications to ensure we stay up to date with our tasks and responsibilities. From sending a reminder 15 minutes before a meeting to receiving an approval or request from a team member. 

However, just as there are people that believe notifications make everything easier, there are others who believe push notifications ruin our productivity. 

According to a study by the University of California ‘’ it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to a task’’, even after the smallest distraction. 

While there are divided opinions on this matter, balance is the key. 

On whatever device you’re working or have nearby while doing so, here’s how you can manage your notifications to stay productive. 

Find the notification center in different operating systems: 

  • Windows 10: Select Start > Settings > System > Notifications & actions 



Microsoft notifications and actions



  • MacOS: Select Apple menu > System Preferences > Notifications 
  • Android: Select your phone’s Settings app > Apps & Notifications 

Although you may be tempted to turn off all your notifications, as we mentioned above, we want to seek balance. Maybe start by prioritizing apps and conversations, turn off any social media or personal chats. 

Customize your notifications 

There are people that work better while listening to music, while there are others that need complete silence to concentrate. We are all different and have worked in an individual workflow, which is why we must adjust our notifications to what works best for us. 

  • Do not disturb 

Choose a period to block all your notifications, except the Apps you or chats that you need to work on. I.e. From 8 AM to 12 PM, and from 1 PM to 5 PM. 

  • Prioritize Apps: 

Choose which apps are important for you while working to keep notifications activated for them. Turn off notifications to apps like social media, instant messaging or games. 

  • Prioritize people: 

Make sure you get messages from the people you’re collaborating with, such as your boss, certain team members, providers, or clients. 

  • Manage alerts during downtime: 

Limit or block notifications if you’re mirroring on a TV screen or are using your device to listen to music while working or taking a break. 

Manage notifications in each operating system 

  • Windows 10: Select Start > Settings > System > Notifications & actions > Focus assist 



Microsoft Focus assist

  • MacOS: Select Apple menu > System Preferences > Notifications Do Not Disturb 
  • Android: Select your phone’s Settings app > Apps & Notifications> 

Manage notifications in Outlook 

Open Outlook > Select File > Options > Mail or Calendar 

Chat and email notifications are certainly the most useful, yet the most distracting while working. Most email and calendar programs provide tools to customize alerts or set default meeting reminders. 

Outlook lets you turn off your notification or the notification sounds, as well as customizing channel notifications, and choosing where your notification appears. 

Manage notifications in Microsoft Teams 

Here’s the path to manage notification sin Microsoft Teams: Open Teams > Select More [three horizontal dots next to your profile] > Settings > Notifications.  


Microsoft Teams notifications

However, here’s a more detailed post on how to manage chat, people, channels, email, and meeting notifications in Microsoft Teams: How to manage Teams’ notifications?

Finding the right balance between work, breaks, and boundaries to stay focused might take a little time. Keep an eye on what’s working and what’s not, and you’ll know you’re ready when you’ve improved your ability to focus.