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Disconnecting can be hard to do

There has been a lot of focus on rights to disconnect, ability to disconnect, and the benefits of your own mental health when you are able to disconnect. Some of us are really good at setting boundaries and rules for ourselves, and some of us struggle.

It's hard to ignore the constant onslaught of notifications coming in on your phone. It's very likely that you receive a notification for every email. Depending on your role, and the organizations culture around email practices it's easy for this to be overwhelming. The thing is, you have every ability to eliminate those notifications.

I know that right now some of you are thinking that you need those notifications to make sure you don't miss an emergency. Here is the truth, email never was and never will be the correct tool for emergencies. There are many others reason you might miss an email that have nothing to do with your notification settings and you've survived. Any real emergency should be communicated by a phone call, or maybe a text message. You should feel comfortable turning your notifications off and if you don't I'll outline a few strategies that you can follow to help ease your anxiety while you make the change.

Let's talk about three different approaches you can take here:

  1. Cold turkey

  2. Sleep mode

  3. Custom reminders

Cold Turkey

This might not be for the faint of heart, but I will be honest and say that this is the path I took and I have never looked backed. One of the reasons that this option works is that its the easiest to implement and has immediate results. Here is all you need to do, change the settings on your email app so that notifications = off. That's it. Now you get to decide when you actually check your email.

This has worked for me because I am no longer in the middle of doing something and get distracted and turn away from what I am doing. It has been great to remain focused and choosing when I want to view my email.

Sleep Mode

Not all apps will support this, but if you are using the Outlook app (Android | iOS) you can definitely set this up.

Tap your Profile Icon --> Settings (cog icon) --> Notifications --> Do Not Disturb.

Once in the do not disturb panel go through and setup your schedule so that notifications only come through at certain times.

Custom Reminders

Using custom reminders can be helpful to organize and manage your time, or to help if your email app does not have the ability to schedule do not disturb time. What you need to do is disable your email notifications, and then set some reminders. You can do this by using your Task or Calendar app and they both serve a different purpose.

If you use your Task app you are simply setting a recurring task named "check email". The task will show up in your notifications at the times you've determined. You may need to setup multiple recurring tasks to receive reminders at different times of the day.

Using your Calendar for the reminders is a bit of a power-up on the Tasks. As in this case you are not only getting a reminder, you are also setting aside time in your calendar to spend on email review. Just like Tasks, you will setup recurring calendar items at specific times of the day to notify you it's time to check your email.


If you are anxious about missing something important, I suggest you start with a the Custom Reminders and use the Calendar setup. It will let you be specific about when you want to check your email and also make sure that you have carved out the needed time to review and respond appropriately.

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