Take control of Outlook app notifications, schedule quiet times

Don’t let notifications annoy you when you are busy, configure Outlook app notifications on your phone to show them only when you need them. How to schedule quiet times free of distractions.

Sometimes you don’t want to be disturbed by email notifications from the Microsoft Outlook app on your phone, such as when you are in a meeting at work. The sounds and the screen lighting up can be distracting.

You might not want work emails to bug you at weekends when you are supposed to be relaxing and you certainly don’t want to be pestered in the middle of the night by emails that can wait until the morning. A good night’s sleep is essential if you want to be productive the next day.

To stop email notifications:

  • Put the phone on silent to stop the chimes
  • Put the phone face down so you cannot see the screen light up with a notification
  • Turn off notifications for apps completely

None of these options is perfect and you might forget to enable them and then be disturbed by notifications in your meeting, in bed or relaxing at the weekend. There is an alternative way to silence these distractions that you might prefer.

I will be using the Outlook app on an Android phone, but these features are almost identical in the iPhone app and there are few differences.

Configure Outlook Do Not Disturb

Open the Outlook app on your phone and tap the button in the top left corner to open the sidebar menu. Press the clock icon in the top right corner.

Outlook app sidebar screenshot
Outlook app sidebar menu

The Do not disturb screen is displayed and there is a lot here that you can configure to control when Outlook can show notifications. Let’s take a look at them.

Set Outlook Do not disturb manually

Outlook app do not disturb settings on a phone: Screenshot

In the Timed section on this screen, you can manually disable Outlook notifications if you do not want to be disturbed by selecting Until I turn it off, For one hour, or Until tomorrow. The middle one is useful if you are in a meeting, provided it doesn’t go over an hour.

For a long meeting, you could select Until I turn it off, however, you may forget to turn it back on until three days later when you realize you are not seeing notifications anymore! Until tomorrow is safer for long meetings because notifications will begin again tomorrow if you forget to cancel it afterwards.

Schedule Outlook Do not disturb

If you schedule events with Microsoft Calendar (part of Outlook), turn on the switch During events in the Scheduled section of the Do not disturb screen and notifications are automatically muted for the event duration. This is a useful feature and it saves you having to remember to manually turn off notifications before a meeting and turn them back on afterwards.

During work hours in the Scheduled section could be useful for some people. There are jobs where you don’t want notifications, such as teaching for example. You don’t want your phone announcing a new email or other event while in the classroom. Most people do want notifications at work, but if you don’t…

Setting do not disturb for work hours in the Outlook app on a phone: Screenshot
Set work hours

Turn on the During work hours switch on the Do not disturb screen and then press the pencil icon to set the hours you work. Tap the Start time and End time tabs, set the times and then tap the tick button.

Schedule quiet time in Outlook

Configure Outlook quiet time in the phone app: Screenshot
Outlook quiet time settings

On the Do not disturb screen, in the Scheduled section is During quiet time. Turn on the switch, press it and there are a couple of useful options.

Certain hours could be used to prevent notifications from disturbing you in the evening and at night. Tap the pencil icon and set the start and end times, such as 21:00 to 0800 and your sleep will not be disturbed by notification sounds or the screen lighting up in the middle of the night.

All day is a useful option to turn on Do not disturb during weekends. It can be set for any days of the week, but most people will want to quieten Outlook at the weekend when they are not working. You will not see any work emails from Friday night to Monday morning. Now you can relax without worrying about work emails and events interrupting you.

It does not mean you will not receive emails, you will, and you can manually check for them by opening the app. You just won’t see or hear notification sounds and notices.

Outlook app notifications in Settings

There are more Outlook app notifications settings elsewhere and these allow you to configure additional options not available in the app. This is where Outlook for Android phone is different to Outlook for iPhone.

Let’s look at Android first. Go to the Settings app on your phone and press Apps. Find and press Outlook to show the Application Info screen. Then press Notifications.

Outlook app info screen on Android phones: Screenshot
Outlook App info screen

These Android notification settings are specific to this app. There is a master switch at the top, Show notifications, and this shows or hides all notifications from the app.

Outlook app notification settings in Android: Screenshot
Outlook notification settings

There is an option to show notifications with sound and vibration, but also an option to Deliver quietly. That quiet option might be useful on occasions. Notifications are still shown, but if your phone is in your pocket or face down, you will not see it or hear it.

This is a manual setting, and you must remember to turn it on when you need it and to turn it off when you don’t need it. The scheduled options on the Do not disturb screen may be better for you because they turn off and on automatically.

Press Notification categories on the screen above.

Outlook notifications options on Android phone: Screenshot
Outlook notification categories

Here you can select the categories of notifications that can be displayed. You may want all of them or just some of them. For example, event reminders and email may be the only notifications you need. If so, turn off the others.

Quieten notifications on iPhone

iOS does not have as many Outlook app notifications options, but there is one that is useful. Go to Settings > Outlook > Notifications and clear the Time-Sensitive Notifications switch. Notifications may not appear straight away and can be put off until later, especially if you have a Focus mode set on the iPhone.

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