University of Wisconsin–Madison

How to keep notifications from ruining your life

Once it was neato when a message popped up on your phone, letting you know a new email has arrived.  The novelty has far lost its luster. Here’s some ideas on controlling your phone notifications.

There’s no quick fix to make your notifications as smart as you, but if you spend a little time making some minor adjustments, they might pay off with less stress in the future.

Notifications in Android and iOS

Head to “Settings > Notifications” to enable or disable notifications from your apps, and to change how and where alerts are shown, and heard.

If you don’t want to miss notifications, but you don’t want to be interrupted, both Android and iOS let you display them quietly without a sound or a buzz, or hide them from the lock screen.  They’ll mount up on the status bar at the top of the display until you’re ready to deal with them.

Another option is to disable notifications for some apps, but add them as widgets (on the home screen on Android or the Notification Center on iOS).

If you really desire control, there is airplane mode. This will block all alerts and notifications until you’re ready for them.  Some research has suggested this is a best practice when dealing with a lot of email.

In-App Notifications

Some apps like Facebook, Gmail for Android, and Instragram have notification settings built in.  It’s worth taking a moment to review them and adjust as you prefer. Instagram is unique that it allows alerts from specific users.

Apps designed to control your notifications

IFTTT (If This, Then That)

Control alerts for just about anything you want: Tweets, bad weather, Badger scores and more.  (The assumption is that you might turn off all other notifications and use IFTTT instead)


Share your notifications across all your computers and mobile devices. The idea here is to reach you, and dismiss alerts wherever you are.


Customize your alerts and set the times that they are allowed to appear.

Flotifications (Android only)

Providing you with Facebook like notifications for just about any app.


Sources: TheNextWeb, Gizmodo, ScienceDirect