Tri-tone Hell

It takes your brain fifteen minutes to get back into the groove of work after an interruption. That’s just a guess, but I’m sure a study somewhere can prove it. And your gut tells you I’m right, right?

That’s why I silence the heck out my phone. How can a person get work done with ‘new mail’ notifications turned on? We all know folks who salivate like a Pavlovian dog every time their iPhone bings or tri-tones. In one split-second motion, their arm snaps to the phone, thumb-pumps the home button, and swipes that unlock arrow right off the glass. Just gotta check. Red badges are almost as treacherous. They are as demanding of attention as a zit to a teenager.

Maybe that’s too far, but you get the idea. Somewhere along the lines, you have to ask, Is the phone serving me, or am I serving the phone? The following is a list of actions I suggest you employ on your iPhone and iPad. Consider it good hygiene.

  • Turn off ‘New Mail’ notifications (Settings > Sounds > set ‘New Mail’ to none).
  • While you are in the Sounds preferences, turn off Sent Mail, Lock Sounds, and Keyboard Clicks as well. Oh, and scroll up to the top of the list and turn off Vibrate under the Silent heading. Vibrating phones are terrifying for everyone within three feet.
  • Curate Notification Center (Settings > Notifications). Only keep in Notification Center what would be considered urgent and important. Ask yourself, “Is this something that should interrupt why I pulled out my phone in the first place”
  • Do the same thing for the ‘Not in Notification Center’ category, but make sure all those Badges, Sounds, and Banners are slimmed back to only the essential.
  • Comb through your Notification settings every now and then just to make sure all your apps are wrangled back into place. They’re squirrely and will sometimes poke back out.
  • Go to your Twitter app’s settings, and make it notify you of Direct Messages only (Tweetbot: Accounts button > Accounts & Settings > Settings > [Your account] > Notifications).
  • Be bold, turn off the red badge for Mail (Also in the Notifications settings, but make sure you turn off everything).

My opinion is that the iPhone is not an email device. Sure, you can fire up Mail if you’re expecting something important, but it’s a horrible habit to constantly be checking that inbox. To me, email is work, and work is done at a Mac. In a later post I’ll share more about how I use the iPhone. But for now, just know that the iPhone is not allowed to interrupt my life.

Rick Stawarz

Minneapolis, MN

I am an Apple Certified Support Professional with over a decade of experience supporting families, schools, and businesses. Tech has always captured my imagination, but it's not my only passion. I'm an ordained Anglican minister;  Aeropress is a daily ritual of mine; I've driven across Mongolia; and I'm the father of three girls. I hope to provide for you a balanced and realistic perspective into the practicality of technology.