How Do You Avoid Getting Overwhelmed By Notifications?

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 that 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 from 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 notifications 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 use—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 any new emails. 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 things 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?

Blogging toolbox: graphics of toolbox and wordpress logo

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73 thoughts on “How Do You Avoid Getting Overwhelmed By Notifications?”

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. My way of dealing with notifications is to turn off most, ignore the rest 😂

    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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. aguycalledbloke

    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 🙂

      1. aguycalledbloke

        Oh goodness yes, l was becoming insane with the amount of everything l used to get, these days l get very very little, and it has made my life uber easier 🙂

  9. 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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