Blogging and Writing

How Do You Handle Notifications on Your Devices?

Blogging toolbox: How do you handle notifications on your devices?

Tech has become a huge part of most people’s lives. The combination of tech and social media (and other websites) means the potential for a lot of notifications. How do you manage them to keep them from getting overwhelming?

Push vs pull

A lot of sites and apps try to send you push notifications, shoving them in your face. There are so many different ways they want to notify you! You’ve got browser tab and app badge notifications, and more aggressive jump out and slap you in the face notifications.

But just because they want you to (because more eyeball time means more advertiser dollars) doesn’t mean you have to. They can try to tap into your FOMO, but that doesn’t mean you have to let them. Pull notifications, where you go fetch them when you’re so inclined, mean you don’t get notified of something as it happens, but maybe that’s better for our sanity. I like pull notifications; I don’t want to know things as they happen.

In more general terms, I’m good with doing things myself. I don’t want everything in my home to be “smart.” I don’t want an Alexa listening to everything I do. Sure, I know my laptop and phone can listen to everything I do, but I like to pretend that because I’ve turned “hey Siri” off, someone would have to actually take an extra step to listen in, and why bother in the sea of all the devices hat already have “hey Siri” turned on.

Given how buggy WP is, or the fact that the megalith that is Facebook/Meta came to a grinding halt, I certainly don’t want my ability to get into my home to be dependent on tech working. But I digress.

Social media

I do not want social media pushing notifications on me. I’ve turned them off everywhere I possibly can, including badge notifications, so that I only see them when I’m looking at the app or site.

I can’t stop them showing me the number of notifications in browser tabs, but Pinterest is the only social site I leave a tab open, and Pinterest doesn’t notify me of anything particularly interesting, so seeing a number there doesn’t entice me to pop over and look at the site. Speaking of Pinterest notifications, they seem to have pretty much stopped altogether over the past week. Their notification system has never made sense, and I doubt it ever will.

Turning off all of the notifications takes some effort, especially on mobile, but I think it’s worth putting in that little bit of effort. A constant barrage of social notifications seems like the kind of thing that could really mess up your head. Stay away, social media, stay away!

WordPress

I get all my WordPress notifications within the Reader. I don’t want to get emails notifying me of blogging-related things. That would very quickly clog up my inbox, and I don’t want that. I see there are new notifications when the little dot shows up on the little bell icon. That’s as in-my-face as I want it to be, and I like it that way.

I like the notification system within the Reader. My current setup is that I don’t get notification of most people’s posts, but there are a few people whose posts regularly weren’t showing up in my Reader feed, so I’ve set up Reader notifications of new posts for those specific sites. I find it quick and easy to navigate through my notifications in the Reader, and I prefer that system over the various social media platforms I’m on.

I finally clued in recently on muting conversations in Twitter notifications. It’s all very nice of people to include me in Follow Fridays and all that jazz, but the explosion of notifications was overwhelming for my brain

Email

I have three different email accounts I useβ€”a blog Gmail account, a personal Gmail account, and a Hotmail account for mailing lists and junky stuff. For my blog Gmail account, I rely on the tab notification to show me if i have new email. My personal Gmail account I access through Safari rather than Chrome to keep the two separate, and it’s the only thing I have set up to send me push notifications on my laptop (but not my phone).

On a side note, I’m getting quite a bit less spam on my blog Gmail since I asked Feedspot to take me off their top mental health blogs list. Their whole top blogs system is based on building up lists of blog contacts on various topics, and they sell those lists to marketers. It took me quite a while to clue into that.

Less is more

The only thing my phone notifies me of are phone calls or text messages, which I rarely get, so overall, I live a pretty low-notification life.

I think tech and social media can be a good or a bad thing, and a lot comes down to how we choose to use them. I’m inclined to think that being exposed to all the default notifications vying for people’s attention isn’t very healthy. It would be nice if that wasn’t the default, but since it is, it’s up to us as individuals to push back against the behavioural patterns that tech companies are trying to get us to engage in.

How do you manage notifications? Have you taken any steps to try to cut down on how many you get?

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72 thoughts on “How Do You Handle Notifications on Your Devices?”

  1. Yep, I hate them and turn everything off except for 2 email accounts, which I want to know about immediately. I don’t even want to see badges ~ when I’m in the mood to view FB or WP or whatever thing, I’ll open it in an app or browser and voila. No need to pester me! I do let my phone show me photo memories because who wouldn’t want to see Gatsby 7 years ago?

  2. I have some things on push, like email and WP. But Twitter and Insta are pull and I barely use FB these days… I’d love to connect on Twitter with you, if you’d like 😊.
    I have had a time where every notification had me grabbing for my phone. It was just after my divorce and I was so eager to hear from someone, anyone… But I found that I relied too much on people that were all being fed lies about me, and they would not reach out, otherwise they would already have done so…
    So just a few on push, all the rest on pull. I live my life and I’ll get to them when I have time and energy for it. 😊

      1. Nope, after all these years they turned their backs on me because my bullying narcissistic ex was telling many lies which they blatantly believed…. πŸ˜”
        Thanks! Gave you a follow back πŸ‘πŸ»

  3. I have all the notifications of Social media apps turned off. Then I am also in a lot of group chats for different reasons. Also all the notifications turned off. Only of important people in my life I have the notifications on.

    And I have phone free days. Which helps to balance it all out.

  4. πŸ™‚ I am probably a unique case where notifications are concerned.

    There are a handful of WordPress bloggers that I do not follow the traditional way; for example, I follow Sadje, Rory, Liz and yourself via Feedly.

    Why?

    Because I want to be notified of yours and their blog posts immediately (Feedly does the Push notification thing by the way).

    I created my Feedly account during my days on Google’s Blogger (And, I have no intention of discarding it).

    The WordPress Reader is not always reliable and you may not always come across some of the bloggers that you are following.

    Ironically, I use the WordPress Reader to come across the blog posts of other bloggers on the WordPress platform.

    Push notifications are highly reliable.

  5. I have a personal email address I use for family and friends. I have an email address I use for work. I use a separate email address for “unwanted” emails – companies who want to harass me with marketing emails etc. I set up a separate email address for my WordPress site when I realized how much junk they were going to send.

    It works pretty well. Unwanted emails go to an inbox I hardly ever check. I can open my personal inbox and my work inbox and find the emails I do want to read.

  6. I’m in the “no notifications” camp. They give me stress and I feel compulsive about attending to them. So, they’re off. I respond to texts pretty promptly for the same reason – little bubbles.

    People who have notifications on apps with two and three digit numbers in them STRESS ME OUT. Sorry about the yelling, but I wanted to be clear πŸ˜ŠπŸ˜‰

  7. I am glad that you wrote about this.

    Notifications on my phone are also confined to voice and text, plus some calendar notifications as well.

    I don’t like push notifications, so the above is all I get.

    Even when working on my computer, I opt out of notifications every chance I have.

  8. Thank you for having this conversation. I agree that notification management is an important self-care for our mental health. While I am not on social, I still have to be careful of what apps are allowed to notify me; for example, I had notifications on for my bank app. However, I deleted the app this morning because I noticed myself logging in so much because of these notifications. THen the app itself keeps you there by recommending financial articles, which in essence market you to enroll in/ buy more of the bank’s services. We’re in an attention economy and it’s more important than ever to protect our limited energy.

      1. I am actually not that bothered, I just ignore them most of the time. However, when something changes I do notice. Several weeks ago notifications from my Facebook changed (I use Polish language version) into something that sounds like ‘you have a post to see and I must say it was quite triggering, like if someone actually wanted me to see it! But now I ignore those too.

        Another thing that I don’t like is, if I go to a new blog (usually with recipes) and the first thing I see is a pop up box informing me that the website wants to send me notifications. It seems to me like if a guy comes up to me in a club and says: Hello, I’m Paul, what’s your number?

        I’m absolutely shocked when I see how many website owners can’t see that. This, plus videos of things cooking jumping on me from all over the place is what makes me give up on browsing the site.

  9. Sorry for being social media non-savvy. How do you set up WordPress to just notify you at the Bell rather than send hoards of emails to your inbox? I don’t see how to do this? Thanks for your help…..:)

    1. If you’re on the WordPress site, click on your Gravatar image on the top right of the screen. On the screen that takes you to, click on Notification Settings from the list on the left side of the screen.

      From there, you can uncheck the boxes for email notifications for various things. At the top of the screen, it will also have tabs for Comments and Reader Subscriptions, and you can turn off email notifications there too.

  10. I used to have them all disabled. That was pre-tech-free. Now that I have allowed technology back into my life, they are all on except for email notifications. Having said that if they ask my permission, I will adjust accordingly but I haven’t gone directly to settings to adjust the others. I used to d to refuse all except phone calls and messages. Over it now.

  11. I’ve stopped as many notifications as I can. I don’t even get a number on my twitter tab that’s always up (I don’t remember how I did that, sorry). The only number I see on my tabs is my email, so I am quick to jump on a new email. And I rarely get a text on my phone. I don’t have Alexa and I don’t want Alexa. I feel odd enough that I can say “Hey google” and my phone will answer me.

    I was losing my mind to all the notifications before! It was so overwhelming. Any notification I had to see right away, not helped by the fact i’ve been accused of ignoring people and yelled at when I wasn’t even at my computer! So to avoid that I tried to jump on everything, make sure to never get yelled at for that again. I couldn’t do anything else and I had meltdowns over it. When I finally learned I could stop all that, it was a life saver. I still check things constantly and I want to work on that, but at least now it’s me choosing to check it, not it slapping me in the face all the time.

      1. It was! I also remembered even though I can’t stop the number of notifications coming up on the Facebook tab, I did turn off a lot of notifications there and Facebook is on my home pages so when I check it in the morning, I then exit out of the tab. I generally exit and restart my browser once or twice a day because of ram and then i’ll see it again. I don’t need to be on Facebook like I used to. I rarely get a message anymore. If I need the message part i can enable it on my phone so then I only see the messages and not all the notifications on FB.

        Notifications were taking all my time and energy and I couldn’t take it anymore. I’m learning how to have a healthier relationship with social media. Social media has given me a world of good, but it also comes with it’s issues, like all the push notifications. So i’m working on a healthier relationship with it. πŸ™‚

  12. I don’t do apps and like you, I will find out via the site concerned.

    Since leaving WordPress, blogs I follow, I follow most by email, than the reader, which I use my blog email for that.
    I have a personal email for my lfe, like a phone and a third email if I were to enter comps etc, where I don’t want to share my personal email. This one is hardly used now though.
    There obviously a few blogs that post several times a day, so obviously I am not going to read everyone they write. But I still want to follow. I read what catches my eye.
    But some blogs I have stopped following for that.
    I don’t follow as many blogs as I did when I was blogging at WordPress now I have it via email for their new posts.

    I obviously use WordPress to comment on blogs I still follow there and use that for comment notifications from those blogs and anything that may crop up with my old blog that I still keep aired.

      1. There’s one who I follow, who I lose count of how many posts she writes, but I really want to keep in touch with this blogger. But I am only going to comment on the odd one. It would take me from other blogs that don’t overwhelm me, because they don’t post often through the day as this one does.
        But another who posted just as much, I had to unfortunately unfollow. It was taking me away other blogs.
        I

  13. Ever the minimalist, I ‘Don’t Allow’ notifications from anyone, except on the site itself. Unless I need a page for reference while I am on another page I never have more than one tab open at a time. Important notifications (bank, credit cards, doctors, delivery notices etc) come via email, and since I am home all day, every day, I can easily check email on my desktop or iPad…which I am using at the time – My browser opens to blank page; I close my browser when I am finished ‘browsing’ and I always close whatever thing I’m doing on my iPad. I love technology but I use IT, I try not to have it use ME. I cannot even imagine having Alexa or Siri in my world. Why do people need that stuff?

    1. I tend to keep tabs open because I forget things exist otherwise. I’ve started shifting some of my calendar notifications to notify me by email, as that’s what I’m most likely to notice.

      I don’t get the Alexa/Siri thing either. The only time I’ve ever used Siri has been when I’ve been driving.

  14. I keep as many notifications turned off as I possibly can unless it’s of particular importance. I agree that the reader is sufficient for notifications and I don’t need an email every time someone does anything at all. That just gets annoying,

  15. I have most things disabled except for WordPress notifications and text messages. I have a bit of an internet addiction so I need reasons not to pick up my phone.

  16. I have all notifications turned off. If I leave any of them on, I run the risk of having a sudden notification “become more important” than whatever it is I was doing before the notification distracted me. As far as WP, I just look up people I like to read and sometimes use the Reader. Everything else, it doesn’t seem like I really need to be “notified” of anything when I know where to find it, when I want to.

    Some of it is ADHD, which increases the severity of the phenomenon. Too many notifications and I get to feel as though I’m in a battlefield always firing at the nearest most dangerously approaching tank. Doesn’t do a whole lot for one’s peace of mind.

  17. My way of dealing with notifications is to turn off most, ignore the rest πŸ˜‚

    I do the same as you with email addresses – I access my main one on Chrome and the alternative ones on Safari.

    Some notifications can be useful, but bloody hell, on top of everything else it’s too overwhelming to be reminded of everything I’ve not done and need to do. Too much.

  18. I was going to simply comment (as I did on your other post) BUT. This comment grew quickly to the size of a small book. Therefore I posted it and a link back to you!

  19. I cut back on notifications for a while with social media but seem to have fallen back in. One I’ve done recently that I’m proud of is stopping my Garmin watch letting me know of calls and texts. 99% of the time my phone is within arm’s reach but when I’m in work it helps not to have my wrist vibrating when I’m trying to focus.

  20. I’m glad I have read this. This article is making me think that maybe certain notifications (or a lot of certain ones) can be bad for mental health, but only getting specific ones, or have a set time to receive certain ones, may be good pending the notification and person.

    1. I agree. It requires more thought and creativity to figure out how to make it work, but I do think it’s possible to focus in on the positives and cut down on the negative aspects.

  21. I follow ‘the less is more’ tribe. Like you, I get notifyed by WP reader. I turn off every notification possible. I even got my phone on silent most of the time, which might be a bad habit for some, I do check it often enough, so I’m available to all who really need me.
    I’m glad we still have some control over this and I hope we will keep it in the future.

  22. i have switched everything off combined with less people you know less shit you receive…

    Googlemail or Gmail tends to divide things up for me very nicely, l delete everything that arrives in Promotions and Social, and l am no longer subbed to many of anything, so l receive a minimal of nothing.

    I switched off WP notificayions a few stragglers get through, but they are deleted, l don’t read anything via email. Of course with the recent ‘chopping’ now l get very few notifications anyway even in the directory.

    Facebook – l only have 17 followers and l hardly speak to them, l use FB only for the internal messenger system.

    I have a non internet mobile phone and only 2 numbers on it, Suze and my mother. I sometimes get delivery notications, but l tend to tell most now to email me.

    Don’t have twitter or IG or anything e;lse.

    Life is simply way too short to be notified everytime someone takes a breath, sneezes or farts socially πŸ™‚

  23. You can’t handle notifications if you don’t have notifications in the first place 🀯 Jokes aside, I turn off notifications for everything except for WhatsApp.

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