Blogging and Writing

How Do You Manage Site/App Notifications?

How do you manage notifications? Background of app icons

A recent post by Rory of A Guy Called Bloke got me thinking about this.  We’re constantly bombarded with a ton of information from the various different platforms we use, so how do you avoid getting overwhelmed with notifications and having your mental health negatively impacted?

By default, WordPress and social media platforms want to throw all of our notifications at us in real-time.  They want our attention to be yanked in their direction as often as possible.

Then there’s the whole FOMO (fear of missing out) thing that makes people want to know what’s going on as soon as it happens, and the idea of not reaching for the phone whenever there’s the ping or vibrate of a notification is agitating.  The sense of pressure and urgency to respond could easily lead to a sense of being less in control of how you spend your time.

However, there’s nothing to say that we have to live our lives that way.  We have the power to make choices about how we will use social media and other platforms; we don’t have to let them use us.  It’s easy to turn notifications off, but a lot less easy to make and implement that decision.

WordPress Notifications

WordPress lets you decide what you want to be notified, and which ways you’d like to be notified.  You can choose to follow blogs my email, or only follow them within the WordPress Reader.  You can also turn email notifications on and off for specific bloggers you’re following.

I’ve had email notifications turned off since I first started blogging.  I like my inbox to be very streamlined, and I didn’t want it getting clogged up with blogging emails.  I get all my notifications within the WordPress Reader.  While the Reader has its problems, I find the notifications are set up very efficiently, and they’re very quick to get through even  when I’m first opening up WordPress in the morning,

I know some people prefer email, but to me it seems like something that doesn’t scale well.  If you’re interacting with a small number of blogs each day I can see email working.  In Rory’s post he mentioned he was getting 1700 WordPress emails a day, which sounds totally unworkable.

Social Media Notifications

I’m not very active on social media, and I still get overwhelmed by notifications, especially if I’m included in a Follow Friday or something like that on Twitter.  I have no idea how people who are really active manage to get through their notifications.

While it’s easy to set up your social media notifications to show up only when you’re looking at the site/app, it means accepting that you could be late to the party on something.  I turned notifications off right from the beginning, so there wasn’t that mental hurdle to jump through.  All of the information will be there waiting for you, but you don’t have to let the app dictate when you see it.

As a side note, Pinterest notifications are weird.  Pinterest only notifies me of a very small proportion of what’s actually happening with my pins, and I have not idea why that is.  It doesn’t bother me, but I just don’t understand how they pick and choose what to tell me about.

Finding balance

My own preference has always been that I want to pull data when it’s convenient for me rather than have it pushed at me.  Now that I’m sufficiently hermit-ish that I’m starting to grow moss, I have no FOMO; in fact, I want to miss out.  I’m not that into social media, so I don’t really care if there are notifications waiting.  I spend a lot of time on WordPress. so I see my notifications quickly, but they don’t take up much of my time.

I get it that most people aren’t as gung-ho hermit as I am.  Still, I suspect that for quite a few people there are adjustments that can be made around notifications to keep sanity a little more within reach.

How do you manage your notifications?  Do you find them overwhelming?

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60 thoughts on “How Do You Manage Site/App Notifications?”

  1. I dislike notifications. I find them stressful. I don’t like forced attention. I get WordPress notifications via email and I check email morning and supper time and that’s it. Not feeling the “pay attention to me” pressure is grand.

  2. I don’t have any notifications on my phone. I don’t even have internet on my phone, so whatsapp or so are only available when I’m in.
    As for WP I look at the reader and have a look at my comments when there is a dot on that small bell 🙂 I check it when I’m online. It works for me like that but I’ve noticed that I miss some posts when I don’t scroll back long enough.

      1. 😀 For one it is a silent bell which is a huge plus and secondly, I don’t know how the dot is called and I feel like a dinosaur 🦕🦖🦕 😂

  3. I am selective with which notifications pop up and I have removed any from social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, FB messenger (I deactivated FB totally) etc. My issue now is my smart watch which I love for running etc and music but I need to wean myself off using it to receive messages. That’s not good for mental health!

  4. I like my WordPress blogs in the Reader only, mostly because I like to sit and read. I def want to streamline my email inbox: Too many email ads and newsletters these days. I should unsubscribe from a whole bunch of survey sites now that I’ve narrowed down which are worth my time.

    I’m on Instagram and Facebook _a lot_, and WhatsApp too. I def will be looking through settings to streamline things more as well.

  5. I’m like you, I will retrieve when I am ready, which I use my browser for what I want to see and not apps. The only app I have is the one my morning job uses. But its not an issue.
    My mobile phone isn’t constantly connected to the internet. So with that app, if there is a message or update, I will get it when on internet.
    I have no fear of missing out either.
    Blogs I follow by reader on WP. I used to follow a couple of blogs by email that were not WP. But I don’t anymore. But no way could I handle that amount in my email inbox.

      1. I have always done it like this. I did try the other way one time when I used to have Internet in the home and had no limit on the Internet. But I soon found it intrusive and so I did where I would real it in on the app when I was ready.

        My friend uses apps and he is there looking when it pings on his phone or ipad I have had to remind him a couple of times the past year when he has shared me something and looks at my phone, which I say “why you looking at my phone?” (I know why he’s looking.) He was waiting for it to alert me. And he said that he sent me something. I said “I will get it later, when I next use the internet. You know I don’t do apps. “

  6. Finding a balance with notifications is important to me. Some days it is hard spend time on the notifications . Some time they build up. I am ok with that though cause then I just dedicate some time to clearing it out. I am having a harder time on the fact that I wish that I could post more often on my blog. I am working on that though.

  7. I only have email notifications for about 10 blogs that I regularly like to read, despite following over 100. I can just find them in my reader if I have the time. I’m still learning how to manage my LinkedIn messages. I’m learning what that platform is good for and not and thus far I’m not overwhelmed with messages.

    Back in my old life, I got 800 to 1000 messages per day between running a magazine, managing a film festival and being a city councilor. Probably 200 needed some kind of response. If something didn’t need a response, I usually deleted it immediately. Of the ones that needed responses, I kept those responses as concise as possible, just to get through them. Eventually, I blocked out like 3 hours twice a week to answer emails that didn’t need immediate reactions. If I didn’t do that, I wouldn’t have ever got back to them.

    It’s really about balance. I struggled to find it here, posting too much at the end of last year, and responding to almost every blog I read. Now, if I miss an entry from someone, or I only release 2 entries a week, so be it. While I really like WordPress, it’s easy for me to get lost in the community aspect of it and neglect the small real life community I still have.

    1. 1000 messages a day – wow.

      You’re right, balance is what really matters. And staying balanced takes a lot of awareness and adjustments.

      1. Yeah, it was one of those things I always secretly wanted because it was validation of my worth. Then when it happens, you recognize it means nothing and is kind of more depressing than before…but now you have a lot of email to sift through.

  8. Boy, oh boy… I need to do some streamlining too. When I was really sick I had avoided my computer for a couple of weeks. When I finally opened it up and saw my email, it intimidated me. I had over 360K emails. I had no choice but to clear out the WordPress notifications to search, find, and take care of the important emails that were “Real-Life” attention… ie…Medicare, Invoices, etc…
    This was one of the reasons why I didn’t reply to many WP emails. It took me another 2-3 weeks to finally clear my email and now I can keep up on it.
    You brought up a very valid point by adjusting the notifications of incoming blogger entries. Thank you for the obvious idea and problem solving.

  9. On our phone, we get notifications of texts and we set reminders. We get some notifications during baseball season of scores and such for fun. We don’t have much social media. For WP, we use the app on the phone. We don’t let it push notifications to our phone. We retrieve them when we want to connect with people.

    Have you watched teens with their phones? Ours have notifications streaming in sometimes nonstop for several seconds. They can’t use the “reminder” function anymore because it gets lost in all the noise. They have to set (and name/title) alarms on their phones to get their attention. The healthy habits they have is ringers are permanently off (to avoid Pavlov-like behavior and interruption), and they put their phones screen-down when they are studying or don’t want to be interrupted. They can also go days and weeks without their phones entirely (when they travel).

      1. The gap in tech knowledge, activities, and interests between a western teen and their eldest relative has to be among the highest gaps ever.

        Spouse’s grandmother would tell the story of the day the new restaurant in town served “pizza pie” for the first time. All the young people were lined up to try it! They were all expecting dessert and so were a little let down and still enjoyed it. We absolutely love that story

  10. I’m pretty strict about policing my notifications. On WordPress, unless I want to get pinged constantly, I’ll routinely choose “no notifications” and just find the blog posts via Reader. There are a few bloggers that I wish to hear from (more often per se) that I’ve ticked the “weekly notification” option for. I’m careful about whom I share my email address with as well, and that reduces the traffic a great deal. But inevitably more and more ‘spam’ (my term for advertisements and special offers and all that stuff) creep in, and then I usually close the mail box and open a new one and start over. I have the time to deal with a large influx of notifications, I do NOT have the patience and I’ve found it’s really bad for my mental health to try to cope. Interesting blog post Ashleyleia! Thanks for sharing it! 🙂

    1. I have a designated email address for ads and newsletters, and then for my “real” email address, like you I’m very selective about who I’ll give it out to.

  11. “My own preference has always been that I want to pull data when it’s convenient for me rather than have it pushed at me”

    —Absolutely, me too! 🙂.

    “I get it that most people aren’t as gung-ho hermit as I am.”

    —Coming from a known highly-gregarious person, I don’t think being a social person and avoiding social media/notifications are necessarily contradictory 🙂.

    The underlying theme I see behind these things— is that we should all constantly question everything, especially societal ‘trends’ that get pushed onto us (social media, notifications, fashion). Always question before taking them up, and whilst doing them— whether they are personally in our interests or not. Are we doing something just because it’s become trendy, or is it actually benefiting us personally? I guess it ties into what people call living ‘mindfully’, or living with ‘intention. I’ve just always been like that and too impatient to deal with things I don’t have a lot of passion for.

    I DID get into social media, but started to realise it’s making me feel worse, and more and more was replacing real social contact— even if I wanted to go out and meet up with people, it inevitably makes people less interested in meeting up with friends— because you already know everything that they’ve been doing and how they are so have nothing to talk about. Now it’s just a thing like religion to me— a thing that a lot of people talk about and make a big fuss about, but is just irrelevant to me. I obviously have no issue with other people doing those things, just doesn’t matter to me. So anyways, don’t have to be a hermit to buck the trend 😄.

    1. (I have all notifications disabled on my phone, except for badge notifications on my phone and text messages— the only two things that are actually urgent for me. I manually check emails and and wordpress daily. I was getting overwhelmed even with wordpress notifications once I’d already manually opened the site/app!).

      The way I see it is that before smartphones, those other things were never urgent— so there must be good reasons why they are now. Part of the constant questioning which I think is important. Often those things obviously come down to capitalism or fashion, simple :).

    2. I totally agree that, hermit or not 😉, we should be questioning what’s getting pushed our way rather than blindly accepting it just because it’s there.

      1. Separate/related thing, I’ve noticed the appearance of common mannerisms and body movements that people do whilst using a smartphone. Like the kind of non-chalant strutting/swaggering whilst looking at a screen and also walking into a social situation. I always find that odd, when I notice patterns of body language that have evolved in conjunction with doing certain things. Another one is the way that people walk whilst wearing low-slung/tight jeans :\. Or people with nice cars, there’s a particular swagger whilst going to and from the car, keys in one hand 😆. I don’t know, people go on about individualism but there’s simultaneously this weird homogeneity.

          1. Haha! Yep. I also get annoyed when people are shocked that I haven’t seen certain TV shows or films, or don’t know certain things, but I don’t see why everybody should have the same interests/know the same things. I actually recently discovered that people definitely pretend to like things to ‘fit in’ or just to be ‘cool’!! Dunno how you could have the patience for that lol.

  12. I used to have my email(s) set up on my phone and constantly felt compelled to get rid of the little red notifications when new emails came in. After my hospitalization, I sifted through the mountain of emails on my laptop, and the mail app on my phone couldn’t handle it and stopped updating. After a while, I just deleted the app. Best decision ever! None of my emails are urgent enough that I need to look at them the second they arrive.

  13. I go through stages of digital minimalism (which is a great book by Cal Newport). I plan to cut down on my notifications as it’s been getting pretty overwhelming lately. And I’m not even on social haha. Great post

      1. I did a review about the book on my site a while back. You can find it under articles–self care

    1. I listened to the audio book, it’s an awesome idea. I tried doing the full detox where you don’t even keep your phone on you unless you’re out and about but I couldn’t stick with it. Now I just keep my notifications on a minimum… I don’t even know when somebody sends me a Snapchat, I have to manually look and I only do that once or twice a day. Feels like I’m popular when I login and have 10 new snaps waiting, lmao.

  14. Interesting timing on this post as it relates to me! Just yesterday I turned off most of my notifications, unsubscribed from all those annoying sites that send me emails that I never read, and closed a lot of accounts that I don’t use anymore. It does FEEL more organized and alleviates some stress to not be bombarded with Pinterest notifications twice a day. The less I can get my phone screen to turn on, the better IMO.

  15. I’ve never had notifications turned on for anything. I figure I’ll get to it when I get to it. I do most of my blogging from my computer and there are times I remove the word press app from my phone so I wont be tempted to look at it all the time. The only social media I have is an Instagram for our cat and I’m not very active on it.

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