Jiu-jitsu your notifications

Learn how to stay on top of all your daily notifications and inboxes without feeling overwhelmed.


Notifications and messages are an essential and inescapable part of any workday. Over the past several years, our work inboxes have exploded beyond just email and chat. Each app that we use has its own notification system that can distract us during the day.

In this article, we'll talk about how you can turn notifications, which are usually a distraction, into a form of deep focused work.

At a high level, the workflow looks like this:

  1. Create a recurring task to remind you to check all your inboxes
  2. Go through each inbox and handle all the easy and quick notifications
  3. Defer the ones that require significant work into Sunsama


Create a daily recurring task · 0:34

  1. Create a new task in Sunsama call it "Morning Triage" or the like
  2. Add a subtask for each inbox e.g. email, Slack, Intercom, Asana, etc.
  3. Set a time estimate for the task (or for each subtask)
  4. Click on the "..." menu to make the task repeat on all weekdays


Need to stay really responsive?

If being overly responsive is important. You can create additional recurring tasks like "Afternoon Triage" and "Evening Triage" and set aside time to check your inboxes again after lunch and once before you finish your workday.

Go through your inboxes · 1:25

Each day, open your recurring task and start the timer as you go through your inboxes.

If you need to be responsive to new work that arrives in your inbox, you may want to start your day with this task before you wrap up your daily planning process.

Running the timer helps with two important things:

First, it helps you understand how much of your day is occupied by simply dealing with inbound notifications each day. This helps you plan more realistic days going forward and feel less overwhelmed.

Second, there's nothing more distracting than going through your inboxes. Seeing the timer running should remind you stay focused on triaging your inboxes and sending quick responses instead of diving into the weeds with each and every notification.

Add notifications that require work to your daily plan · 2:39

When you come across a notification or message that requires significant work, you should move that into Sunsama as a task for later in the day, or a later day, if necessary.

If it's an email, you can use Sunsama's Outlook or Gmail integrations (Dealing with emails)

If it's a Slack message, you can turn it into a task inside Sunsama (like this).

If it's from another service, you'll have to manually create a task in Sunsama to follow up with it. You can add the URL to the task notes to get to it easier later.

If you are motivated, you can pipe all your notifications from your various tools into your email inbox and then pull them in via Sunsama's email integration. Here's an example of how you can create your own "Notion Mentions/Notifications Integration"

Best practices

  • 45 minutes is a good first estimate for inbox triage for most people, you can adjust it later. You might even find some days are busier than other e.g. Monday.
  • Try not to check your inboxes outside of your allotted task.
  • Create a channel called "#inboxes" and categorize this recurring task there, that way you can see how much time you spend on your inboxes each day/week.