Mike Stone

Mostly The Lonely Howls Of Mike Baying His Ideological Purity At The Moon

Too Many Notifications

22 Mar 2022

Recently I decided I needed to take a break from computers. I wrote about it in my last post. To “ease the pain” of being without my computers, I primarily used my phone for all things Internet. That brought another thing to my attention. I get way too many notifications.

I honestly don’t know how many notifications I get. I generally tend to leave my phone on Do Not Disturb to avoid getting the constant CLANG. The problem for me is that in my experience, Do Not Disturb is not super reliable.

I’m on call this week, and an important notification from work that should have gotten through Do Not Disturb…. didn’t. I missed it and it escalated. It wasn’t a super big deal, but I’m not a fan of explaining that I have no excuse other than I was sleeping and didn’t notice the important call.

I feel like I’m using Do Not Disturb incorrectly. On the face of things it’s right. I use it to mute most notifications, but still let some through. Where things go wrong is I just don’t care about most of the notifications I’m getting. I swipe them away without ever opening the app or caring about what they say. Instead of using Do Not Disturb to keep those from making a lot of noise, I just need to turn those off.

That’s what I’ve started doing.

I’m going through my phone and just turning off notifications that I don’t care about. This is what I should have been doing in the first place, but inexplicably wasn’t. One of the apps I turned notifications off for was averaging (AVERAGING!!) 38 notifications per day. That wasn’t even my email app, which 38 would be lowballing.

I had games on my phone that were notifying me. Why?? I play a game every now and again to NOT be working. No game on my phone is important enough to warrant a notification. Not one.

Some of the notifications I was getting are notifications I want, but not something I want interrupting my day. They’re fine for when I’m looking at my phone. Those notifications I’ve been setting to Silent, so they show up in the drawer but don’t make noise or annoy me otherwise.

Beyond just flat out turning notifications off, I’ve started tuning my notifications as well. Older versions of Android weren’t as granular when it came to notifications, and I found much of my configuration hadn’t taken advantage of the granularity that has been added in newer versions of the operating system. Apps will break out their notifications into categories that you can enable and disable individually. It’s actually a really nice option. The only thing that’s glaringly missing is scheduling when notifications are allowed. I may really want to get a notification for something work related at particular times of the day but not others. I can turn notifications on. I can turn notifications off. I just can’t (by default) do that based on the time of day. I think I might be able to kludge something together with a 3rd party like Tasker, but I haven’t looked into that enough yet to know for certain.

I’ve been running with Do Not Disturb turned off for the last day or so. It’s been a little bumpy, but I’ve started looking at the notifications I’m getting and thinking about whether I really care about getting them. When I used to find myself swiping notifications away without caring, now I’m just turning those notifications off. I’m configuring my phone to give me a better control over what does and does not notify me at all.

I really should have done this sooner.

Day 7 of the #100DaysToOffload 2022 Series.

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