You’re living in the Age of Distraction. Email, instant messages, text messages, social media, apps, reminders… Information overload! Seemingly everything comes with a notification, and they’re all clamoring for your attention.

Notifications are fantastic but if not managed properly can easily become the nagging, attention-craving boyfriend/girlfriend in your life that demands your attention.

You’re at work. You get a Facebook notification. “It’ll only take a second.” 15 minutes later…

Give more quality time and get more done by taking control and managing these distractions.

“I don’t need to be notified about everything that happens when it happens.”

Do yourself a favor—turn off all of your push notifications. Then selectively enable the ones that are truly important. (Hint: not Facebook)

Some apps, when installed, will ask you permission to allow push notifications; unfortunately, many apps that don’t ask assume you want them on. I don’t play games on my phone often, but I recently downloaded Bejeweled Blitz. A week later, I got a notification about a sale on special gems. “Really!? A sale on gems!? Thanks for letting me know. Let me jump on that offer ASAP!”

“I don’t need to have every email account I own connected to every device and be notified of every email delivered.”

I have 5 active email accounts I check on a regular basis, but only receive push notifications for 2 of them. The others, I check them when I want to check them, not when they want me to check them.

Email filters are extremely useful—they allow you to manage your incoming emails by automatically labeling, archiving, deleting, forwarding, etc. them so they don’t clutter your inbox. Most major email providers and clients offer them so take advantage of them—they’re awesome.

“I don’t need to be active on every social network known to mankind and follow every person that walks the face of the earth.”

Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Vine, Path, Foursquare, MySpace—I’m registered on them (and more) and at one point even made an effort to be active on all of them as well. Since then, I’ve recently deleted many of them off of my phone.

Let’s be honest, how often do you scroll through Facebook’s news feed and think, “Wow, I’m so glad I did that.” Exactly.

I’m adjusting how I consume content on each platform. I have something specific I want to accomplish on each, and if someone I’m following does not help me accomplish that goal, I simply won’t follow him. Now I may follow someone on Instagram that I don’t on Twitter, but that’s because although his tweets may not fit what I want from Twitter, his shots may fit what I want on Instagram. I don’t follow Hollywood celebrities on Twitter. Why? The experience I get with following them does not fit inside the experience I expect and want when I’m on Twitter.

Take control

Your time is valuable. Stop letting distractions take away from your time. Set limits—they’re valuable, especially in today’s world.