Count how many apps exist on your smartphone. Chances are, you have a significant number – many of which are probably rarely used, if at all.

Now consider that most of those apps will offer some form of notification functionality. Whether it’s a news app informing of breaking headlines or a social media platform eager to share a long lost friend’s latest photo of their dog, our attention is in high demand.

Unfortunately, this means notifications are an all-too-regular interruption during our daily lives.

The good news? They don’t have to be. In fact, with the following tips, you can become the boss of your notifications and ensure they don’t get in the way of your life.

Decide which notifications really matter to you

You might enjoy occasionally dipping into Instagram to check out the latest posts from your friends and family, but do you really need to be informed whenever someone adds a new video to their story?

Probably not. A text message from your spouse or reminder of a doctors appointment on the other hand? Those notifications matter.

Be brutal, and turn off notifications for all but the most important of life’s elements.

graphic showing multiple notifications on a smartphone

Distinguish between urgent and important

It’s easy to mistake an important notification for one that’s urgent.

A reminder that your car parking is five minutes from expiry will arguably need your attention, quickly, but the indication that snow might arrive later that evening can probably wait until you next check your weather app.

Which brings us onto our next point…

Decide if visiting the app is better

Some apps do such a good job of notifications that you hardly ever need to visit the app itself to get the information you need, but notifications shouldn’t always trump the app.

Once again, if the notification is urgent and really matters to you, that’s fine – in fact, it’s brilliant – but if it can wait, why not delve into the app when you’ve got more time to spare?

Turn off email notifications

Email remains a brilliant way to communicate with people, but it shouldn’t be used as a way to get someone’s attention.

This is why email notifications should be one of the first features you turn off when you’re setting up your new smartphone or tablet. And if you’re unsure, have a think about the instances where you need to be made aware immediately that you have an email.

There aren’t any, are there?

Use the ‘mute’ option if available and when needed

Some apps, such as WhatsApp, offer the ability to mute notifications for specific chats or types of update.

This can be incredibly useful if the app presents you with both urgent and non-urgent notifications; the latter can be dispensed with immediately by pressing the ‘mute’ button, so make good use of it!

Bonus tip for smartwatch owners: don’t mirror your phone!

Anyone who owns a smartwatch will know how equally annoying they can be for needless notifications. Thankfully, there’s a simple solution to this.

By default, your smartwatch might ‘mirror’ your phone’s notifications. It’s best to avoid this feature. Instead, tailor your smartwatch even further so only the most urgent of notifications appear on its screen.

Enjoy your new, notification-lite future!