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Zero Notifications Club

Join the 0 Noti Club today.

Posted on 2021 March 3

Join the 0 Noti Club today.

I don’t like notifications that break my focus. I don’t mind badges or little icons, but flashing lights and noises are really distracting. They tend to be easy enough to disable, but there’s one form of notification that I really dislike: desktop popup notifications.

These turn signals that are widely async or informational (ex: status on background tasks, meeting invites) into immediate popups for attention. I find that breaking focus on people reduces their overall productivity, much more than they would gain by the off-chance a notification was actually significant.

They sap my focus every time they pop up. The panels of text fill up the rightmost side of my screen, blocking me from clicking anything underneath it unless I wait or dismiss it manually.

Curating notifications takes a lot of unnecessary legwork to make them “work for you”. Since the range of things you genuinely want to know, and stuff you don’t really want to know, is too time-consuming to explain to whatever random application wants to send you notifications.

Should only emails in my “directly TO me” folder notify me on the desktop? What if someone expands a DL and now a silly message is coming to me? Should I always be on the hook to curate and mute emails coming through?

Nah, let’s just turn them off and check the applications once in a while to see what’s up.

I feel bad for anyone who ever agreed to let chrome put notifications on their desktop. What a horrible existence to have random apps or news feeds pinging you all the time.

I find notifications to generate two primary forms of noise: Mental Noise and Visual Noise.

Mental Noise

The situation: I’m trying to focus on cognitive-load-heavy work -> programming. I’m about to type out the opening parenthesis on a beautifully thought out if statement. In the corner of my eye there’s movement, notifications flood onto my screen:

Ticket #99898989595 Status has been automatically updated to Stale.

No updates to ticket #1239489042829849 in 4 hours.

Automated Report EE-22-1110202 has been Actioned for Processing.

Awareness - Internal Systems Handling Stale Task Linking will be Offline for 4 Hours on Saturday.

In my mind, I can still see the glorious branches of my if statement. My focus is breaking.

☁ It’s fading. ☁ It’s getting cloudier. ☁☁ It’s getting further away. ☁☁☁ It’s gone. 💨



Now I have to re-think my if statement all over again. I’m annoyed, my motivation is tanked, and I instantly dislike whatever email broke my focus.

Visual Noise


I see desktop notifications all the time when someone is presenting. It’s actually one of the few times that I’m reminded that they exist!

It’s super amateur to have desktop notifications while presenting, especially when presenting to a group. Nobody needs to know that you’re on email threads when you’re trying to present a system design review. At best, someone is messaging someone about a 2nd hand trade and now we know they want to buy a snowboard. At worst, a manager is discussing an employee’s performance with another manager.

Chat Programs

Chat Notifications

In chat programs like Discord or Slack, people often message in short bursts. If I leave notifications on, my screen will fill up with notifications. boom boom boom I hope I don’t need to click anything over there.

hey dude

have i ever told you my opinion of notifications

like desktop notifications?

theyre annoying D:

I’m also annoyed when chat apps decide to subscribe you to random message threads, ex: “suggested” or “top/trending”. Doing this destroys any balance of signal-to-noise ratio, and it distracts people while they try to figure out why they got the notification.

random person: “my dev deployment failed because the config for this esoteric component is wrong” 👍 x 1

random person: “hi everyone, i’m leaving 30 minutes early today” 👍 x 2

random person: “who wants to buy my end table? 30 obo”

Chat Reacts

Rob C like reacted to message. 👍

Rob C heart reacted to image. ❤

Rob C sad reacted to message. 😿

Rob C angry reacted to message. 😡

Very useful information. /s

Especially when presenting. /s

Join the 0 Noti Club today. Just turn them off and check the apps manually every so often. You will be more focused and productive as you work on the right rhythm to check notifications.


Thank you for reading!

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