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 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.
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?