The Hidden Costs of “Do Not Disturb”

Photo by visuals on Unsplash

Have you ever hung a “Do Not Disturb” tag on the door knob outside your hotel room?

You came back from a night out in Vegas, or perhaps a business dinner at the end of a day spent standing at the conference booth of your company.

Thanks to the Do Not Disturb (DND) tag, the following day you are certain not to be woken up by the room cleaning team; however, when you are finally awake, you realize your bath towels are still wet and you don’t have toilet paper, body wash, shampoo, etc.

Your current optimization decision - sleeping - led to the short-term adverse consequence of not having enough bathroom supplies.

While, in the hotel case, such consequences are very evident for you and for others (your hair won’t look that good after being washed with hand soap), there are other contexts where similar decisions have even worse implications, although almost always unnoticeable.

Trade more focus today for more meetings tomorrow

This time, you don’t hang the DND tag on the door handle, rather, you artificially book most of your day to give yourself a break and catch-up with work.

You isolate yourself and you feel better because you are not constrained by a tight schedule, and you imagine the rewarding end of an incredibly productive day focused on what matters.

Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash

During that focus time, you accumulate tons of messages and calls from people needing something from you. Those people may try to unsuccessfully call you a couple of times; then, they will send you a message to figure out when you are available. Since you don’t check the phone, you don’t reply to any of their messages in a reasonable time frame; so, some of the people will want to make sure they get a hold of you and will send you an invitation for a 1:1 meeting scheduled for tomorrow.

Photo by Elisa Ventur on Unsplash

You end up your day of amazing achievements by discovering the tens of notifications stacked across your phone and laptop. The following couple of days in your calendar are packed with meetings to be accepted. Many of these are meetings that, if you didn’t disappear, would have been avoidable by a quick call or chat session.

Instead, they are there, along with a daunting amount of messages to process. And this makes you have second thoughts on booking focus time, am I right?

You tried to solve your task list problem by isolating yourself, and you ended up generating more tasks. Now, going through all those tasks requires time and a mental cost you don’t really want to incur.

Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

Perhaps, you even reached an extreme whereby the experience of dedicating time for yourself is so discomforting due to the accumulation of tasks, that you avoid it, with the result of feeling burned out with low energy and motivation. Have you ever had these kinds of thoughts?

There will be a better way

Imagine a future where AI replaces your calendar. People who need to talk to you don’t get frustrated trying to reach out during your focus time. They don’t even bother spending time to schedule a meeting in the near future.

They simply make a wish to talk to you, and get magically connected with you, when it’s convenient for both. Wouldn’t it be great?

Photo by Ivan Dostál on Unsplash

You could simply go in DND mode, do what you enjoy doing, and when you are back to being socially available, you get connected effortlessly.

No more emails asking for your availability, no more piles of instant messages from people trying to talk to you, no more voicemails to process, no more 1:1 meetings in your calendar, no more cognitive cost, no more time wasted.

Photo by Natalya Zaritskaya on Unsplash

Instead, more time to focus on what matters and close your day faster, which means less overtime work and more time to dedicate to yourself, your family and friends.

Don’t you think you would be more productive and less stressed if a future like that existed?

The good news is: we are building it.




Long-termist visionary technology Entrepreneur and Product Leader, with a strong passion for improving people's productivity through innovative solutions.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

Eat that frog with a Pomodoro🐸

Multitasking is Harming Your Success

Are You Looking to Increase Your Productivity?

Overwhelmed? Too Many Priorities? You Need to Read This

Dynamic to Static

5 Productivity Apps You Definitely Want To Try

The Power of a Morning Ritual

I’m Looking Once Again At Switching Task Managers

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Dario De Santis

Dario De Santis

Long-termist visionary technology Entrepreneur and Product Leader, with a strong passion for improving people's productivity through innovative solutions.

More from Medium

My Thoughts on the Characters of the Hellish Quart Game


How to Spot Crisis Actors in Social Media

NATURE-BASED SOLUTIONS are Vital to Reduce Greenhouse Gas by 2030

REASONS WHY WE CANT AGREE THERE IS NO MONEY IN NIGERIA * Please read this and let us all reason…