Boost productivity: Configure Do Not Disturb on the iPhone

Silence notifications and interruptions with Do Not Disturb on the iPhone for those times when you need to focus on work, sleep, driving and so on. Configure Do Not Disturb and Focus modes.

The iPhone can be noisy and beeps and chimes announcing the arrival of a message or email, or some event in a game, can disturb your sleep. One solution is to turn off the sound, but then your sleep might still be disturbed with the screen turning on if the phone is on the table beside the bed. However, with Do Not Disturb, you can get a good night’s rest, work and have meetings in peace.

You might want to enable Do Not Disturb during meetings at work because the noises and screen activity can be distracting both for you and other people at the meeting. DND enables you to have a distraction-free meeting.

There are more scenarios and these days cinemas tell you to turn off your phone during the movie. Instead of doing that, you could enable DND mode. Driving a car is another occasion when you don’t want to be disturbed by your phone because it could be dangerous. People have had accidents while texting and driving, so silence your phone with DND.

Manually enable Do Not Disturb on iPhone

Do Not Disturb in the iPhone Control Center
Enable focus modes like Do Not Disturb

To manually enable Do Not Disturb or another focus mode on the iPhone, pull down from the top of the screen on the right-hand side (the left side shows notifications). The Control Center appears and if you press and hold the Focus button, a list of focus modes is displayed. Tap Do Not Disturb. Tap it again to turn it off.

There is another way to enable or disable Do Not Disturb and this is through the Settings app.

Do Not Disturb settings on the iPhone: Screenshot
Do Not Disturb settings
  1. Go to the Settings app
  2. Press Focus
  3. Press Do Not Disturb
  4. Use the Do Not Disturb switch to enable or disable it

This screen has several features that enable you to configure Do Not Disturb to work the way you want it to.

Schedule Do Not Disturb on iPhone

Set a schedule for Do Not Disturb on the iPhone
Set a time schedule for Do Not Disturb on iOS
  1. Go to Settings
  2. Press Focus
  3. Press Do Not Disturb
  4. Press Smart Activation and turn it on.
  5. Press Add Schedule or Automation
  6. Press Time
  7. Set the From and To times, and days of the week when Do Not Disturb automatically turns on

You could schedule DND to activate during all work hours or just selected ones. Some people may want to schedule DND during the day. For instance, if you are working and don’t want to take personal calls on your iPhone, DND could be enabled from 9 AM to 5 PM, or whatever your work hours are.

You could schedule DND for evenings and weekends if you want to prevent work calls and notifications outside of office hours.

Do not create a schedule for sleeping at night because there are settings elsewhere for that. We will look at that shortly, but for now, let’s configure Do Not Disturb some more, and add exceptions, so that people can contact you.

Let family bypass Do Not Disturb

Let family and friends bypass Do Not Disturb on the iPhone
Choose who can bypass Do Not Disturb on iOS
  1. Go to Settings
  2. Press Focus
  3. Press Do Not Disturb
  4. Press People under Allowed Notifications
  5. Under the Allowed People, tap the Add button
  6. Select contacts that can bypass Do Not Disturb
  7. Press Calls From
  8. Select the group of people that are exceptions to Do Not Disturb

It is up to you who you choose. One way of using this is to add Family members to Allowed People so that you can still receive phone calls, messages and notifications from your partner, children, parents and so on. Alternatively, you may want to take calls from your boss, even if you have DND enabled for a meeting. It is your choice and no exceptions is an option, then you won’t be disturbed at all.

Another option is to allow calls only from your Favorites.

  1. On the home screen, press the Phone icon
  2. Press Favorites at the bottom of the screen.
  3. Press the plus button at the top of the screen.
  4. Select a contact
  5. Press Message, Call, Video or Mail
  6. Tap an option, such as their home or work phone

Enable DND until you leave a location

Suppose you are at work, watching a movie at the cinema, having a meeting with a client or customer, you are at some other place. You could enable Do Not Disturb until you leave. However, you might forget to turn it off. Wouldn’t it be useful if DND could be automatically disabled to return to normal mode when you leave work, the cinema or wherever you currently are?

You can. Open the Control Center (swipe down from the top right), and press and hold on the Focus button until the focus modes list appears. At the right of each focus mode is a three-dots button. Press it.

Enable Do Not Disturb until you leave a location on the iPhone
Enable Do Not Disturb until you leave

A list of options appears that enables DND for one hour, until this evening, or until you leave this location. Select the last option and DND automatically turns off when you leave wherever you are.

Enable Do Not Disturb at bedtime: Sleep focus

Bedtime was introduced in iOS 12 as part of the Clock app and it is aimed at helping you get a good night’s sleep by turning off or limiting the screen, calls, and notifications. It was taken out of the Clock app in an iOS updated and it can now be found in two places: The Health app and Focus settings. It was confusing before, and this change has not helped.

Do Not Disturb silences your phone by preventing calls and preventing distracting notifications during the daytime. Sleep Schedule in the Health app does the same, but at night, so your sleep is not disturbed. It dims the Lock screen, prevents calls, and stops notifications from lighting it up. Notifications are sent to the Notification Center and not the screen.

Bedtime has an option to remind you to go to bed and some people may find this useful. I keep falling asleep in front of the TV and don’t need to be reminded. It can also wake you up with an alarm in the morning and this is obviously more useful.

Set Sleep focus on the iPhone

Set Sleep Focus on the iPhone
Set Sleep Focus, a kind of Do Not Disturb for iPhone
  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Press Focus
  3. Press Sleep
  4. Turn on the switch, Turn on at bedtime
  5. Press Schedule and Options below

This takes you to the following screen: Apple Health app > Show All Health Data > Sleep > Full Schedule and Options, which is another way to get to the settings.

Turn on Sleep Schedule at the top of the screen. If you have not yet set a bedtime schedule, press Add Schedule. A 24-hour clock gadget appears. Drag the left end of the curve to set the time you go to bed and drag the right end of the curve to set the time you want to wake up.

Set the days this schedule is active at the top and swipe up the screen to enable or disable an alarm at your wake-up time. A different schedule could be added and made active for weekends if you don’t need to get up so early.

There are more settings for Sleep focus and there are some interesting options. Here I have just looked at the most obvious ones.

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