I had encountered umpteenth article on how minor disruptions are terrible to work flow. Lately I have indeed felt that few things tend to require immediate attention for no good reasons.
So I went over software and disabled all over aggressive notifications to see if there is a difference.
These may be quite important, but there is no way to distinguish when they aren’t. One thing I came to understand is that reading two hours worth of mail and feeds once is much faster than reading 15 minutes worth eight times.
I honestly tried with Twitter clients but as soon as web interface got updates notification without need to refresh – I ran back to it. It doesn’t beep and I keep my stream focused, manageable and easy to handle.
In IM (guess I can put Google Wave in this category as well) most of my contacts aren’t pointlessly talkative. I’ve disable ICQ notification that message is being typed, but other than that no need to kill notification completely. There are also convenient statuses to set when needed.
One thing that I really disliked is that Opera doesn’t distinguish ticker notification and rest of signs there is new email. So when mail notification is disabled I had also lost tray icon change and dot on mail sidebar panel.
Even less of a distraction, but now checking mail requires to bring Opera up and open sidebar every time. :(
Cannot say that getting rid of notification made me insanely productive. Still it had most obviously reduced number of trips to read stuff. And the more processed in bulk, the less overhead time is wasted.
I won’t pronounce this unquestionable boon to getting things done, but I do suggest that you should try it for yourself and see if changes are that positive.