Notifications are the blight on deep work. If the phone rings, I’m instantly out of the flow. But the same happens if it plays a notification sound, which happens quite frequently.

Notifications of incoming emails are vicious things. If someone calls you, there is an actual human on the other side. But getting a newsletter or spam does not require human action; they are sent in masses.

In the last few days I’ve tried to suspend notifications for a few hours, when I need to actually work. It works just fine. I have a strange feeling that something might happen that requires my instant attention, but it’s hardly the case. On the other hand, constantly getting out of the flow is a much costlier scenario.

Simply ignoring the notification is not enough. My mind still thinks about whether it’s important or even catastrophic and I can not concentrate anymore.

There is a strange gratification when I react to notifications. If I have an unread email, I feel obliged to check it. And once I discard it as non-important I feel like I’ve done something productive. But it’s nothing; a newsletter I’m still subscribed to, most of the time.

Some advises to check email only twice a day. Since I’m working remotely, I can’t make this happen. But deferring it an hour or two is quite doable.

Deep work is much more rewarding than instant availability. But it’s rewards are not instant. Be persistent.