From How to Stare at Your Phone Without Losing Your Soul:

There are better parameters to evaluate quality, not quantity, of the time spent staring at your screens:

  • Does this app do its job and then politely step aside?
  • Does it linger in your brain like an awkward party guest at 2:30 A.M. after everyone else already left?
  • Did I summon this app, or did it summon me via notifications?

Emphasis mine.

One of the best things I’ve done since my “digital detox” (see here and here) at the beginning of last year was to turn off only notifications that weren’t urgent. Of course, what’s considered urgent for me isn’t going to be what’s urgent for you.

For what it’s worth, though, make sure to use Focus Mode a lot depending on what I’m doing. I typically don’t use banner notifications unless it’s from someone urgent or from something urgent (like an alarm system).

And, as far as devices like my watch is concerned, I don’t receive any notifications on it except messages and since it respects – and supports – Focus Mode, then I can control who messages me and when.

Ultimately, for those looking to break some of their aimless time spent on the phone, one of the best things I can recommend is this: Don’t let your devices tell you what to do. You tell them what to do.

Notifications, which were meant to be informative, have been one of the worst things for diverting our attention, “summoning us” into whatever just happened, and bringing us out of the present moment we’re in with the people with us.