Whether you work in a busy office, remotely from the road or from your home office, chances are that you will be interrupted during your workday. Many of us work in a team-oriented, collaborative environment, and this is just the nature of that reality. Windows 11 22H2 includes several new features that allow you to reduce or even block those interruptions, at least temporarily, so you can finish your most-pressing tasks.
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The Focus Assist and Notifications features of Windows 11 have been around for years, dating back to Windows 10 and earlier versions of the operating system. With the release of Windows 11 22H2, Microsoft has enhanced and tweaked those features to make them easier and more convenient to use on a regular basis. These improvements may establish Focus Assist as an everyday tool for some users.
New Focus Assist and Notifications settings in Windows 11 22H2
Before Windows 11 22H2, users primarily accessed the Notifications Settings through the Windows Settings app by navigating to System | Notifications, as shown in Figure A. From there you could turn on Do Not Disturb and thus activate Focus Assist.
With the release of Windows 11 22H2, users can now access Focus Assist directly from the notifications area of the system tray on the taskbar. As shown in Figure B, all that is required is a mouse click on the notifications area to reveal the fly-out screen.
In the upper right-hand corner of the Notifications area, there is an icon shaped like a bell with sleeping Zs. Clicking that button will turn on Do Not Disturb without the necessity of opening the Settings menu, as shown in Figure C.
To make a quick change to your Focus Assist settings, you can add or subtract 30 minute increments directly from the Notifications area, or you can click the Focus button found at the bottom right-hand area of the fly-out screen before you start a session to open the Focus Assist settings application, as shown in Figure D.
From this Focus Assist settings application, introduced by Windows 11 22H2, a user can adjust the default settings without the need to navigate any System settings menus. From here, you can change the duration of your standard Focus session, make a To-Do-List, change to a timer or world clock, and start a Spotify session to help you block outside interference.
Accessing Focus Assist from the Notifications screen of Windows 11 22H2 makes sense and greatly improves the overall user experience.
Changing default Notifications in Windows 11 22H2
To change the default behavior of Windows 11 22H2 Notifications, navigate back to the System | Notifications section of the Settings menu and scroll down to reveal the details section for commonly used applications, as shown in Figure E.
In this section, you can specify which applications are allowed to disturb you with notifications of activity and which are not. Clicking on an item in this list allows you to drill down to even more specific settings based on the application, as shown in Figure F, which happens to be the details screen for Outlook.
The last and most drastic setting you may consider for Notifications is to completely deactivate them all together, as shown in Figure G.
Shutting down Notifications may not be a viable solution in many work environments, but if you are a one-person operation or a freelance contractor, it may end up being your best solution. Turning off Notifications is certainly worth considering, even if it is only for a day or two.
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