Kill The Badges: The productivity hack that eliminates the worst kind of distractions on your iPhone and iPad

BY Mike Vardy

Published 14 Nov 2012

There are plenty of things you can do in Notifications on your iPhone and iPad, but one of the best things you can do to eliminate constant distractions isn’t to kill all notifications.

By doing that you wind up creating a whole ton of uncertainty on your mobile devices, which can actually distract you more.

Notifications aren’t evil. They don’t steal your time as much as you’d like to think because they come and go. They don’t remain omnipresent on your device as you try to go about getting done what you need to get done in the moment. There is a much bigger culprit involved in stealing your attention and focus: those stinking badges.

Badges remain until you have dealt with them. They stand out like a sore thumb on your iOS devices, reminding you that there is something there that has to be dealt with. They draw you in and compel you to get rid of them, unlike banners and alerts that fade away. If you want to take a big step in improving your productivity on your iPhone and iPad, then implementing this hack will go a long way.

To turn off badges, go into Settings and then Notifications. After that, check each app that you’ve given access to Notifications and use the slider to turn badges off. It’s as simple as that. No more red badges staring you in the face. You’ll still get any notifications you deem essential, but they won’t distract you nearly as much.

(For Mail you’ll have to go in a bit deeper, but you can disable badges for every mail account you’ve got set up once you do – even VIP emails.)

You could go a step further and kill all sounds, but this one simple thing is the single best thing you can do to boost your productivity on your iPhone or iPad.

Now I know what you’re thinking:

“Kill all badges? Really?! Are you sure?”

And my answer is: yes.

But if you’re not ready to jump into the deep end, then here are the 3 apps I recommend you keep active and the 3 app I recommend you absolutely turn off.

Keep badges on for these apps:

  1. Phone. That way you know if you missed a call.
  2. Messages. Same idea here. (Both of these communication methods are meant for instant connection, so that’s why keeping them on is more acceptable than say, Mail.)
  3. Your Task Management App. This will keep you from missing any appointments or important tasks for the day (although if you create a habit of checking this first thing in the morning then the badge could be considered redundant.)
Turn badges off for these apps:
  1. Mail. It’s not at all necessary to have this staring you in the face every time you have an unread email in your inbox.
  2. Game Center. This takes you away from the work you need to be doing on the device.
  3. Social Networking Apps. Same as above.

So what are you waiting for? Use this simple productivity hack today and steal back some of that focus and attention you’ve been losing.

Photo credit: Jake Spurlock (CC BY 2.0)