Mossberg: The tyranny of messaging and notifications

Up until just a few years ago, I got around 350 emails a day, which presented me with an exhausting, time-consuming daily task that I grumbled about plenty. Now, because of social media and messaging services, that number has been cut by more than half. But things are actually worse.

These days, messages come at me from so many directions that it’s incredibly distracting and even harder to deal with. Friends, co-workers, business acquaintances and strangers contact me on multiple siloed services, which can signal subtle shades of immediacy or weight. And when I have to reach someone with something important and time-sensitive, I often wind up resorting to two or more similar but independent pathways, because I’m never sure which one will be likelier to work, since he or she is under a similar assault.

Source: Mossberg: The tyranny of messaging and notifications

I’ve worked on taking control of my notifications, and have come up with something that works for me on my iPhone.

  1. I’ve set my ringtone to a silent tone.
  2. I’ve set my text tone to silence.
  3. I went to Settings -> Notifications and turned off sound notifications for almost every app.
  4. While I was in there, I set most of the notifications for apps to be off. For those that I do want to know if something has happened, I’ll turn on badges, but set the alert style to none.

For messaging and emails, part of the issue is to set expectations for others. My email is organized with filters and the usage of Spark so that only important emails trigger a notification. This is tough for others to understand, they don’t understand when I say email me that I’ll get a notification of their email. They believe it will get lost with all of the other emails, but that’s not the case for me.

I check my phone when I have time, I don’t like the interruptions from notifications.

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