Breaking Free: Rejecting Big Tech's Notification Frenzy

An insight on how a simple decision can cause a marked improvement in one's well-being.

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So, I did it- I took some time off work, and yes, the experience was absolutely as glorious as I hoped it would be. And if there’s one thing I learned during my break that I’d want to share with everyone, it is that turning off notifications on one’s smartphone is an amazing life hack that I am convinced more of us should be doing in our day-to-day lives. In my case, I chose to turn off notifications for my work email while on vacation, and after a few days of doing this, it was quite amazing to realize how, when the banners announcing a new message stopped slithering across my mobile screen, I managed to get my mind freed up, which then allowed me to rest, reflect, and yes, recharge. After I started reading about the rather alarming ways in which smartphone notifications have been coded (they have essentially been designed to enable addictive experiences), it was easier to see how the deceptively simple decision to switch off notifications on one’s smartphone could cause a marked improvement in one’s well-being.

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After I returned to work, I did ponder whether I wanted to switch my notifications back on for my work email, and after some thought, I decided against doing that. As someone who’s never done this before, I’ll admit that this is an experiment of sorts, to see if I can indeed do my work as efficiently and effectively as I can, without having to be tuned in to it all the time. I reasoned that I’ll be having my inbox open on my computer all the time while on work hours anyway, and so, there didn’t seem to be any reason for this to be replicated on a second screen too. Switching off email notifications on my mobile phone has also made me realize that I don’t need to check every email that comes my way the moment it lands in my inbox- as funny as it may seem in hindsight, I must admit that it took me a while to get used to this!

Now, all of this might seem rather trivial and perhaps not worth talking about for so long, but once you look into the larger discussion in the world around workplace wellness and personal well-being, you will see that it is often the little things that one ignores, which lead to bigger problems later down the road. And I’m glad to report that it’s not just me waking up to this realization though- SnappCard founder Alborz Toofani has penned a message to entrepreneurs in this month’s issue of Entrepreneur Middle East, in which he says: “Your startup is just one part of who you are. It is not all of who you are, and do not allow it to become that. The better you treat yourself, the better you will be treating your startup. Get off the hamster wheel, and start running your life in its fullest form.” Well said, Alborz- and I’m certainly trying to follow your lead.

Related: Breaks Lead To Breakthroughs

Aby Sam Thomas

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Entrepreneur Staff

Aby Sam Thomas is the Editor in Chief of Entrepreneur Middle East. In this role, Aby is responsible for leading the publication on its editorial front, while also working to build the brand and grow its presence across the MENA region through the development and execution of events and other programming, as well as through representation in conferences, media, etc.

Aby has been working in journalism since 2011, prior to which he was an analyst programmer with Accenture, where he worked with J. P. Morgan Chase's investment banking arm at offices in Mumbai, London, and New York. He holds a Master's Degree in Journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York.