How can I overcome notification paralysis?

In the first part of this series, I will talk about notification paralysis.
We all suffer from it from time to time, you are taken into the momentum of the day.
The last thing you have time for are the red dots that hang above your apps.
Your phone rings, apps come in, Teams messages.
Not to mention apps that generate notifications that do not add anything to your productivity.
It also impacts your social availability to people around you.

I am going to talk about steps that will help you bring more order to your phone.

Why do apps send me notifications about useless stuff?

Apps that are advertising-based (think about Facebook and YouTube), are continuously trying to pull you into their app, because every time you open the app and see an advertisement, their revenue goes up.
It is that simple.

Apps you pay for are less likely to try to focus your attention on other things than their service (like advertisements), because it’s already paid for.
They are only sending notifications about things that interest you, because they want you to renew their service and the app not to be annoying to you.
It’s a different businessmodel.

There definitely are examples of apps you both pay for, but still try to gain your attention, but these still have advertisements, just less obvious ones.
Also, sometimes you don’t pay for the app to be advertising-free, but just for the functionality.
An example of this is LinkedIn Premium.

Be selective

To make sure I do not get notifications from apps I am not interested in, I categorize apps into the following categories:

  • Apps that can send me instant notifications
  • Apps that interest me, but that can send me notifications a maximum of two times a day
  • Apps that I use when I need them, but that are not allowed to send notifications

By default, every app falls into the category of apps that I use when I need them, but that are not allowed to send notifications.

So how do you assess this?

In general, apps that are allowed to send me notifications directly are apps that are time dependent.
These are messaging apps like WhatsApp, but also apps like my car’s, so I know when my car alarm goes off.

Apps that interest me are apps like LinkedIn, my favorite news app, but also my podcast app which notifies me when there are new episodes of my favorite podcast.
I have delayed notifications for these apps twice a day, one time before work and one time afterwards.

Apps that I use when I need them but are not allowed to send notifications are apps from, for example, my regular supermarket.
I get notifications every day that I have offers ready, but this only makes me go shopping on days when I do not need anything.
This is one of many examples.

How do you do this?

Every app on an iPhone has its own notification settings.
When you set up delayed notifications for your first app, it will make you set it up so you can use it for every next app you want to use this for.

It will ask for things like:

  • Do you still want notification badges throughout the day, even when you didn’t get the notifications itself (don’t recommend that, you’ll get curious)?
  • Do you want the block of delayed notifications visible throughout the day (don’t see the added value there, you know why?)
  • When do you want the delayed notifications to arrive?

But I have adaptive wishes and requirements for notifications throughout the day

This is very recognizable, when I am at work, I need Outlook, my Teams app and whatsapp.
I do not need other distracting things like Facebook Messenger at such a time.

When I am at home, I do not want to get notifications from work all evening, then my Outlook app is also on silent.
That is not to say I do not open the apps in question during the evening, but only when I feel like it and have time.

For this you can use focus profiles, which you can automatically switch on when you arrive at work.
You’ll also have different notifications settings in this profile, which can come in handy.

If you work in various locations, it may be useful to set this based on the day and time.


As I mentioned earlier, you can, for example, set which focus profile to choose based on your location or day/time.
Yet you can set it much more automatically than that.
For example, you can set that when your focus profile “work” is enabled, your volume is adjusted automatically, or even that a file keeps track of what time you arrived at work.

How do I set this up?

In the coming period there will be tutorials on my blog, to tell you more about this.

What is next

Next time, I will elaborate on limiting app usage.

Action and decision log Template

This document template is an action and decision log, used to track all actions and decisions taken during a meeting.

In addition to taking minutes of meetings, it’s a clever idea to keep a record of all actions and make sure everyone is aware of the actions they are responsible for.

And record all decisions of a person of authority, so that there is no doubt about who decided what.

By sending this list and putting it in a convenient place, it becomes clearer which actions had to be performed and who made the decisions.
During a project, for example, it becomes easier to hold someone accountable if they have decided something they should not have been allowed to do.
It is also important that if someone is absent for a long time, all the actions of that person are transparent, so that they can easily be placed with someone else.

In the case of a project, it is advisable to place all actions recorded during a project-meeting, in a project management application, with a reference to the document, so that all actions resulting from a meeting are also included in the day-to-day operations of a project.

Download the file here (English):

Download the file here (Dutch):

Meeting Agenda Template

This document template is an meeting agenda, used prepare for a meeting.

Every meeting runs smoother when you know in advance what is going to be spoken about.
Apart from that, it is also a way to make sure that people prepare better for a meeting, by asking them to bring items to the meeting outside the agenda.

With this document template you can easily prepare for a meeting, making sure that everything runs smoothly.
Make sure it is stored in a central place.

Download the file here (English):

Download the file here (Dutch):

Universal Cloud Print Preview

I love it, but do customers too?

I love how this solution is this easy to implement, and how this brings the ease of a modern workspace with a fitting printing solution on the user end.
The experience to the user is simply amazing, and I think is took some real effort on Microsoft’s end.
So, they did nice work on that.

However, there are some limitations:
Follow me or badge printing are simply not possible for now.
Physically added paper bins can’t be added.
Auto-stapling is not available.

I understand that these are added functionality by the printer manufacturers, but organizations have bought these machines fitting to their printing needs, you can’t take this away by implementing this.

And it’s all because you don’t have a native print driver.
Don’t get me wrong, I hate native printer drivers.
Without driver isolation on, you can destroy printing for so many clients.
Especially in large organizations, this has been an enormous issue.
Something you can’t blame Microsoft for, because it was simply bad programming on the printer manufacturers end.
Alot of them where using legacy shared components (a lot of printer drivers used old HP LaserJet Components, which would conflict and make peoples print spoolers crash in the past).

I think a wide alliance with Printer Manufacturers is necessary to make this happen, since we can only implement this in doctors’ offices or organizations where there are as many printers as people.

However, I love how this really brings an end to crashing print spoolers and printer configuration issues.

As companies are getting increasingly paperless, this solution gets more fitting by time, I think.
For legacy organizations, with comprehensive printing requirements, I think we may also have to start thinking about other ways to make sure printing is implemented in a fitting way.
Being creative has been a real help before, a lot of solutions are available, so maybe this will be a big competitor too.

Windows 10X: more reliable but may slow certain things down.

As you may know, Windows Core OS is the core operating system for many future variants of Windows.
One of those is Windows 10X, the operating system that would become the primary operating system of Dual Screen devices initially.

Microsoft has recently announced that because of the Novel Coronavirus outbreak, plans to release Windows 10X for the Surface Neo and other dual-screen devices will be postponed and they will now focus on building the operating system for existing single-screen devices.

One of the mayor advantages of Windows 10X is also its Achilles heel.
It will run Win32 applications in containers, where only Modern apps will run native in the operating system.
This reduces the attack surface of the operating system since every application is sandboxed.

They also will be able to service the operating system faster and more reliably.
Some even say that a simple reboot will suffice for Windows 10X, since the operating system can fully install the update in the background (like it does on Chrome OS devices).

This would be the best of both worlds: better battery life, a more secure operating system, fast servicing, more reliability (a win32 app will in the worst case crash the container it is running in), and still support for Win32 apps.
Let’s be honest, only Win32 apps will be able to crash the entire operating system.

However, the big issue here is that it will be emulating an operating system for those containers, as we all know this reduces performance in some way.
This really shows that Microsoft is still working towards a future where Win32 apps are history.

A script to list all members and owners per Team

This script will list all members and owners per team.
When you add -savedcred:$true it will save a credential file locally, which will give you automated access using that same account to your tenant.
It won’t save your credential plane text, it will use credential vault, which should be perfectly secure.
When using MFA on that service-account, make sure you use an app password.

It also list the object ID’s of both the users and the teams, which means you can use the exported CSV for other scripts (like removing a user from all teams).

The following columns are shown:

You can download it from:

Edge stable goes live before official announcement

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When you Google ‘Edge Stable’ today, you’ll get the official download link for the stable version of the Chromium-based Microsoft Edge.
I downloaded it and saw it had the same Chromium version-number als the beta-channel, which most likely means it will be released soon.

Here’s a screenshot for when it gets pulled (hopefully it won’t):

After a year of testing Microsoft finally seems to finalize testing, while they are preparing for launch.
The official downloadlink can be found here:

Fun fact, it uninstalls the Edge version that comes with Windows, which likely means that next versions of Windows will get this version of Edge by default.

The Chrome import functionality works like a charm, so I would absolutely give it a shot.

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Automatically clean folders in batch (Powershell Scripts)

Why I really like the Windows 10 April Update

After working for a week with a preview of Windows 10 1803 (which will be called the April update), yesterday I had to swap my Surface Pro and I went back to the stable build.

The first thing I miss after going back:

I used Timeline a lot: Every time I used Windows-Tab to switch, I started a PowerPoint presentation that I have been preparing for a while.
Not even realizing that I did not search for the file itself, but that I left this entirely to the Timeline functionality.
In addition, I also used it a lot to quickly restore a session: You could already easily restore a number of tabs if you for example shut down your PC.
But now you can easily do this with tabs from a few days back, really the most ideal function to resume the activities of last Friday after a fun weekend.

Furthermore, the Focus functionality is really a huge advantage if you give presentations, although it is unfortunate that this is limited to applications that use the notification functionality of Windows.
The Focus functionality does not work in Chrome for example, because they use their own notification-engine.
What is noticeable however is that a lot of application developers already made use of this, I have not come across anything except Google Chrome.

It was so incredibly natural to use, that I really began to appreciate the functionalities when I went back to 1709.
By the way, the April update will be released tomorrow, so I can upgrade again.
I can not wait!

Read all services and scheduled tasks in your server environment (including Server 2003)

At one point we found out that many system administrators had used their own administrator account for Windows Services and scheduled tasks.
This became a problem only when a few colleagues decided to leave for another company. 

Accounts were turned off and all kinds of services fell out.
Among other things, an SQL server that turned out to run under one of these administrator accounts. 

To know for certain where these accounts were running, I wrote a script that can help with identifying these accounts.
Because scheduled tasks can not be read out with the powershell variant on server 2003, I used a legacy command and changed the layout of the output.
The script asks a number of questions (such as the domain, among other things) on the basis of which two files are generated with all scheduled tasks and services. 

I hope this helps you clean up these scheduled tasks and services. 

Here you can download the script: