I still remember getting my first cell phone.
The year was 1999 and my mom passed down her beater of a silver Sprint flip phone. For the time it was high tech, featuring an exterior notification screen, polyphonic ringtones, and a few games that would later look “totally lame” next to Snake on my friend's Nokia brick-phones. Despite the terror that is being a cell phone owned by an 11 year old kid, it lasted several years until I convinced my parents to upgrade me to a a new LG phone with a “totally cool” color screen (and countless software bugs).
Fast forward to 2008 where I found myself in need of a new phone having had my latest
victim Razer flip phone split in half. In an effort to show mercy to my parents, I made the mature decision to get my own phone plan and a sexy, contract-subsidized iPhone 3G for only $200.
For the first few years having an iPhone was similar to having a dumbphone, just with a better screen, a browser that worked, and countless other bells and whistles that were more of a novelty than necessity. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way those novelties gave way to alerts, push notifications, and constant buzzing, beeping, and blooping that turned the my “smart” into a constant point of annoyance and stress as it begged for my attention.
It's for this reason that I've been diving into the extremely extensive notification settings and turning off as many active notifications as possible (active being anything that makes my phone buzz, beep, or otherwise distract my attention when it's not in front of my face). The only three apps for which I've left active notifications fully intact are “Phone”, “Messages”, and “Facetime”, or what I still consider to be the core functions a phone should provide (and even those are 100% silent at the flip the switch on the side of my iPhone).
Additionally, to help minimized distractions when I am on my phone I've also disabled the majority of passive notifications (badges, banner alerts, etc - anything that unobtrusively appears once you're already on the phone), and only left them intact for the few work-critical apps like Mailbox, Slack, and Google Hangouts.
A few weeks in I now check my email once or twice a day, Facebook a few times per week, and otherwise only pull out my phone when I have true downtime rather than out of habit. Surprisingly, I've yet to miss anything work-related that couldn't wait until later, and what started out as an experiment in being able to focus better on work has turned into a much better balance between myself and what should be a tool rather than a constant distraction. If you find yourself distracted or pestered by your phone I'd recommend giving it a try.
As someone who works as a designer and developer I get it — the more we use our phone the better for your company, but as a human being with limited time and attention I have to wonder if there's a better way? All things aside, that old Sprint phone had one feature that makes it appealing compared to phones of today — the damn thing was silent 99% of the time.