Distraction disaster! Notifications are ruining our concentration – here’s how to escape them

Whether socialising with friends or completing a difficult task, a ping on your phone can destroy the moment. It is time to address the constant stream of interruptions

Joanie (not her real name), a clinical psychologist who lives in London, has three work laptops. This is not uncommon when you’re spread across different NHS services. Sometimes, she feels like the 1980s synth supremo Paul Hardcastle, who used to dart between keyboards when performing on Top of the Pops. Except that he wasn’t always rudely interrupted by random notifications. “When I log on to one laptop,” she says, “this automatic thing comes on called Netpresenter player. It’s a ticker tape, like one of those bus-stop ads that keeps moving.”

She quits it, because she needs to concentrate on writing up notes before her next meeting. But it keeps coming back with annoying notifications. “I’ve been in the middle of a session and it’s started playing music and a video – usually things like, ‘Don’t forget to wash your hands properly’, or, ‘Hey, we’re all meeting for a webinar in half an hour about staff wellbeing.’” Joanie says her wellbeing would improve if it was easier to get her work done.

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