Harper Reed's Blog

Harper Reed's Blog

Musing from a normal person doing normal things

14 Jan 2024

How to easily handle the deluge of iOS notifications

TL;DR: Manage your iOS device notifications effectively with Focus modes and Scheduled Summaries. Customize Focus modes for different scenarios like work, personal time, or sleep, allowing only important notifications. Use Scheduled Summaries to bundle less critical notifications for convenient review at set times. This approach streamlines your notification experience, reducing distractions and enhancing productivity

Two features I rely on:

  1. Focus modes
  2. Scheduled Summaries

Focus modes

I use focus states to set my phone (and computer) to various focus states. I have personal, work, DND, and sleep.

  • Work - This is my work / concentration mode. I only get notifications from apps I have specifically identified.

  • Personal - my play around and fuck around focus mode. Typically after work, and on weekends. I get many more notifications in this state. No blocking of notifications.

  • DND - no notifications. Don’t even show the notifications

  • Sleep - pretty much the same as DND, but with some extra widgets on the screen.

  • Driving - what happens in the car. very limited notifications

Enabling Focus States through Device Settings

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Scroll down and tap on “Focus”.
  3. Here, you can select a pre-existing Focus mode like “Do Not Disturb”, “Personal”, “Sleep”, or “Work”, or create a custom one by tapping the “+” button in the top right corner.
  4. Once you’ve selected or created a Focus mode, you can customize it by allowing notifications from certain apps and people.
  5. To enable this Focus mode, you can either turn it on directly in the Control Center, or schedule it to turn on automatically based on time, location, or when you open a specific app


For each mode, I will have a specific background, and home screen config. This way my “work” mode will look and feel different than my “personal” or home mode. It allows me to be triggered back into a state on a glance. I use midjourney or their built in photo backgrounds as my mode backgrounds.

I also have a workout mode, driving mode, and a few others. But I primarily use Work, Personal, and DND.

In the configuration of the focus modes, you can specify what people you want to hear from, and what apps you want notifications from. I make this pretty tight. I always allow calls from Favorites (due to emergencies, and what not). I do the same for apps.

For instance, for work mode I only allow notifications from apps that are work related (slack, email, etc). I also limit calls from favorites only. I don’t limit people in the notifications cuz I often work with new people and ended up missing their notifications cuz of my limiting people. I found that limiting which apps was really effective.

You can also add focus filters to a focus mode. This means that you can specify which email address you want to monitor during work or during personal focus. For instance, you could say “I want to monitor my work email during work, but ignore it after work” or whatever. You can do the same for messages, and a few other apps.

I have my focus modes trigger based on time (9-6 -> work, 6-9am and 6-10apm -> personal, 10pm-6am -> DND).

You can also set up different home screens, and hide certain screens. For my travel mode i only show my travel homescreen. For sleep mode I only show my sleep screen with some widgets about what is happening (temp, time, and calendar for tomorrow). For work mode I only show my work screen with work apps. and so on.

It may take some configuration and hacking, and some apps don’t support filtering - but once you get it locked down it is really awesome.

Scheduled Summaries

This feature is awesome. It will make it so that the notifications you don’t care about will be hidden behind a group of notifications. You can view them, but they won’t bother you.

It rules.

Here is how to get it going:

  1. Open Settings Start by opening the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.

  2. Navigate to Notifications Scroll down and tap on “Notifications” to access the notification settings.

  3. Access Scheduled Summary Within the Notifications settings, tap on “Scheduled Summary” to configure your summaries

  4. Enable Scheduled Summary Toggle the switch next to “Scheduled Summary” to turn it on. This will reveal additional settings for scheduling

  5. Select Apps for Summary Under “Apps in Summary,” select the apps that you want to include in your notification summary. You can choose apps based on the average number of notifications you receive from them or alphabetically

  6. Schedule Your Summaries Under “Schedule,” you can set the times you want to receive your summaries. Tap “Add” to create a new schedule or “Remove” to delete an existing one. Adjust the time for each scheduled summary according to your preference

  7. Review and Adjust You can review your settings and make adjustments at any time by going back to Settings > Notifications > Scheduled Summary. Here, you can add or remove apps from the summary or change the scheduled times

  8. Receive Your Summaries Once set up, you will receive your Scheduled Summaries at the times you’ve specified. These summaries will appear on your Lock Screen and in the Notification Center, allowing you to catch up on notifications at convenient times

Once it is set up, it just kind of works. I have a morning summary, and an afternoon summary. I also put nearly all of my apps in the summaries.

This is especially awesome of installing new apps. So many apps are sending shitty push notifications, and I do not care. This allows me to hide them.

If I find I am missing some alerts, I can pop it out of the summary. And vice versus. It works super well.

Both of these really make my life better. It takes a minute to make sure it’s tweaked how you want, but it’s worth it.

If you only did one of these, do the scheduled summaries. It is a game changer.