We’ve already spoken recently about how to manage your Chromebook’s notifications using the Do Not Disturb feature, so I won’t go into details here, but I wanted to take this moment to remind you of how powerful and effective it can be in blocking out distractions in order to stay productive on your Chromebook as we enter into 2021. As everyone ramps up and has a mind to re-connect with their friends, family, and colleagues after the holiday lull, you’re sure to get bombarded with emails, messages, and app notifications. So that you can maintain your peace of mind and churn out some work, I’m going to go over some additional tips and tricks for the new year to help you make your device a space for productivity instead of distractions.
App Badging and device volume
Do Not Disturb is great as it prevents notification cards from popping up at the bottom right of your screen whenever they arrive, instead collecting them in your notification tray so that you can access them when you’re ready to. However, even with Do Not Disturb enabled, your Chromebook will still make noise when you receive a ping! Chrome OS doesn’t have separate sound controls like Android and I wish Google would allow notification audio to be controlled separately from media volume.
Unfortunately, that’s not currently possible, so while it may sound simple, I would encourage you to keep your Chromebook muted while you’re typing emails, building websites, or doing anything else that needs to be done outside of watching or listening to media. Believe it or not, Google still hasn’t considered adding a volume control for app notifications. If you visit the app’s settings, you can toggle off its ability to play back audio, but not its ability to audibly ping you – frustrating.
Another tip is to take advantage of your Chromebook’s App Badging toggle. We haven’t covered this in the past because its release slipped under our radar, but if you visit the Do Not Disturb drop-down in your quick settings, you will see the option to turn off App Badging. This feature is directly responsible for making a little colored dot appear on the top right corner of your apps both on your shelf and in your launcher when they receive a push notification.
I don’t know about you, but a visual notification dot is almost just as distracting to me as an audible one when it appears out of nowhere. It perpetuates our impulse to click and get that dopamine rush and solve the mystery of what we were tagged in on Twitter, for example, and first existed in Android before it was finally ported over to Chrome OS. I like it, but not when I’m trying to type a full paper! Toggle App Badging off and all of the notification dots will disappear like magic.
If you haven’t heard of the Pomodoro technique, it works like this – it’s a time management system that encourages you to break your workday into 25-minute sessions separated by five-minute breaks. Each interval is referred to as a Pomodoro – or a tomato (Italian). It’s meant to boost your productivity by rewarding each work session with a small break.
Anyway, you can find a ton of these on the Google Play Store, but I wanted to mention a really cool one that comes in the form of a PWA – or progressive web app – and I will always mention PWAs whenever I can. Just click the button below to open the Pomodoro PWA and follow our step-by-step guide for turning this tomato into an app icon! Once you do that, I recommend scaling the window to the bottom right corner of your Chromebook’s display as seen below. Did you know that Chromebooks remember the scaling and positioning of your app windows? This means that each time you open your Pomodoro it will be a small little tool in the bottom right of your screen! It’s so cute…and tasty.
Organize your Launcher
You can press your Everything button to find pretty much anything in the world (or just in your Chromebook if you want – that’s cool too). However, once you install enough apps or capture enough PWAs as icons, your launcher can start to look and feel unwieldy. I sort of relate cleaning and organizing the launcher to the new year because it’s almost like you’re getting a fresh start and cutting through mental clutter. Check out the super neat method that I use for organizing my launcher and the psychology behind it. Yes, you could always just search to filter things out if you want to, but that’s up to you – I like to be thorough. That’s probably my OCD kicking in, but I can’t be alone here, right?
Virtual Desks, Tab Groups, and more
Lastly, I recently gushed about how I’ve accidentally fallen in love with Chrome’s new Tab Groups feature and even gave you a bunch of ideas for how to use them effectively, and Tab Search recently became a thing as well, so even if you don’t use Tab Groups, you should still be able to quickly find and jump to any tab your heart desires.
By the way, Virtual Desks may soon support up to 8 desks instead of the current four and you can now perform quick actions from Chrome’s Omnibox so there are plenty of ways that Chromebooks can help you keep the focus and speed up your workflow – they’ve come a long way!
Getting the ball rolling
I’m sure that there are plenty of other tips and tricks for blocking out distractions and boosting productivity on your Chromebook that we didn’t include here today, but we just wanted to get the ball rolling and encourage you all to chat among yourselves in the comments. What are your favorite tools or tips? Sharing is caring and we should all band together for 2021!