Remarkably Restrained

the title is misleading

Fighting distractions: write-only mode

In the war against distractions, I’m trying to at least limit distractions to times which are good for me. That is: I turn off notifications on email, messaging apps etc. However, there’s a big hole in my defenses: I often get distracted reading messages when I set out to write one.

The typical thought process is: “I should send person X a message, before I forget.” To achieve this, I open some messaging app on my phone. However, the moment I open that app, I’m confronted with a few unread messages by other people. I follow the bright red icons, read the messages and respond to them.

Having done so, I’m left wondering: “what was I doing again?” Person X is forgotten at this point.

There are many similar situations which are essentially instances of the same problem:

  • Wanting to search for a particular item in my email archive, and being confronted with incoming email.
  • Opening a browser to look up something in particular, and being distracted by a homepage full of “interesting” news.
  • Not even reaching the correct app: when opening the phone to interact with app A, being distracted by a notification in app B.

The solution is obvious: the ability to configure my phone (and similarly: my email client) in “write only” mode. In that mode no indication at all is given that there are new messages, until the phone is set to normal mode again.

In a slightly less drastic variation, a single exception would be made: opening a conversation with a particular person would show at least the messages sent by that person. This would avoid sending messages to a person without having read any (possibly relevant) messages of theirs, while still having the advantages of pure write-only-mode.

As far as I know, neither of these options is not currently generally easy to configure on modern phones.