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4 Ways To Overcome Notification Fatigue

4 Ways To Overcome Notification Fatigue

If you are one of the 92% of Americans who have a cell phone, you’re probably receiving constant notifications from mail, texts, tweets, and news feeds.  Over time, the buzz in your pocket, the silly ring tone, and the incessant need to check for messages can really start to take their toll on both you, and those around you. I would argue that there are now so many notifications with limited utility and I, for one, have decided to take a stand.

I will no longer accept just in time notifications unless they are from one of a select group of people I deeply care about. These people have been added to my VIP list that includes my spouse, my kids, my boss, and finally the other members of my executive team. Everybody else will be covered in an hourly scan of my messages and responded to with an appropriate priority.

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This practice became my new norm when I found I could not keep up with the sheer number of notifications my iPhone was bombarding me with. At some parts of the day, the rate was as high as one event per minute. I was having trouble getting time to work on goals that required concentrated thought.

Here are four huge negative outcomes from the notification epidemic.

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Endless Notification Equals Endless Distraction

It’s wonderful to know what’s going on in our world but it’s also incredibly hard to focus if your phone is beeping or vibrating every few seconds. When this becomes the new normal, a state I call “endless distraction” settles in. An email arrives, you process it. A tweet comes in, you read it. All of this shortens your attention span to the point where you cannot perform long-term work and notification fatigue sets in.

Notification Stimulus Leads to Increased Stress

There are countless studies that show us constant stimulus leads to overload, and overload leads to stress. If taken to the extreme, constant stimulus has another name: torture.

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You may think that turning off notifications will lead to more stress because you might miss an urgent message from your boss or spouse. Most devices have the concepts of VIPs (important individuals whose mails or texts will show up in real time whilst silencing the maddening crowd). If used correctly, this can greatly reduce the amount of stimulus you are receiving.

Stress and Distraction Reduce Performance

Stress and distraction are a recipe for decreased performance due to cognitive overload and muddied thinking. It is virtually impossible to give a topic adequate thought if you are working from moment to moment. Consequently, your decision making capability can take a real hit as well. This is a manifestation of accommodation (a key concept in neural biology), where the response of biological entity decreases with constant stimulus over time.

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Notifications Kill Authenticity

Let’s face it, one of the greatest social faux pas of all time is having a conversation and trying to attend to notifications at the same time. The person across the table feels slighted by your inability to give them adequate attention and perceives this as a lack of authenticity on your part. Over time, this leads to decreased trust and a weakened relationship.

Gadgets such as Apple watches can be perceived as being even less authentic. Not only does the act of looking at your watch signal disinterest, it also suggests that maybe this meeting should be over. Since the other person may not know about your latest gadget, it’s easy for them to take offense and see you as being inauthentic.

So What Should I do?

For true notification addicts I recommend the following strategy.

  1. Start by turning off each and every notification on your phone.
  2. Create a VIP list of people who you would want to interrupt you for emergencies. Allow them to send messages and emails so you can be sure they’ll be able to contact you.
  3. Be consistent. Don’t add anybody else to the list.
  4. Set a calendar reminder to check your messages every one to two hours and religiously stick to it so you are covering all the messages you could potentially miss.
  5. You are effectively fighting a form of addiction or conditioned response. Reward yourself for sticking with it!

Featured photo credit: http://albumarium.com/ via albumarium.com

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Colin Rhodes

Chief Technology Officer

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Last Updated on May 14, 2019

8 Replacements for Google Notebook

8 Replacements for Google Notebook

Exploring alternatives to Google Notebook? There are more than a few ‘notebooks’ available online these days, although choosing the right one will likely depend on just what you use Google Notebook for.

  1. Zoho Notebook
    If you want to stick with something as close to Google Notebook as possible, Zoho Notebook may just be your best bet. The user interface has some significant changes, but in general, Zoho Notebook has pretty similar features. There is even a Firefox plugin that allows you to highlight content and drop it into your Notebook. You can go a bit further, though, dropping in any spreadsheets or documents you have in Zoho, as well as some applications and all websites — to the point that you can control a desktop remotely if you pare it with something like Zoho Meeting.
  2. Evernote
    The features that Evernote brings to the table are pretty great. In addition to allowing you to capture parts of a website, Evernote has a desktop search tool mobil versions (iPhone and Windows Mobile). It even has an API, if you’ve got any features in mind not currently available. Evernote offers 40 MB for free accounts — if you’ll need more, the premium version is priced at $5 per month or $45 per year. Encryption, size and whether you’ll see ads seem to be the main differences between the free and premium versions.
  3. Net Notes
    If the major allure for Google Notebooks lays in the Firefox extension, Net Notes might be a good alternative. It’s a Firefox extension that allows you to save notes on websites in your bookmarks. You can toggle the Net Notes sidebar and access your notes as you browse. You can also tag websites. Net Notes works with Mozilla Weave if you need to access your notes from multiple computers.
  4. i-Lighter
    You can highlight and save information from any website while you’re browsing with i-Lighter. You can also add notes to your i-Lighted information, as well as email it or send the information to be posted to your blog or Twitter account. Your notes are saved in a notebook on your computer — but they’re also synchronized to the iLighter website. You can log in to the site from any computer.
  5. Clipmarks
    For those browsers interested in sharing what they find with others, Clipmarks provides a tool to select clips of text, images and video and share them with friends. You can easily syndicate your finds to a whole list of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Digg. You can also easily review your past clips and use them as references through Clipmarks’ website.
  6. UberNote
    If you can think of a way to send notes to UberNote, it can handle it. You can clip material while browsing, email, IM, text message or even visit the UberNote sites to add notes to the information you have saved. You can organize your notes, tag them and even add checkboxes if you want to turn a note into some sort of task list. You can drag and drop information between notes in order to manage them.
  7. iLeonardo
    iLeonardo treats research as a social concern. You can create a notebook on iLeonardo on a particular topic, collecting information online. You can also access other people’s notebooks. It may not necessarily take the place of Google Notebook — I’m pretty sure my notes on some subjects are cryptic — but it’s a pretty cool tool. You can keep notebooks private if you like the interface but don’t want to share a particular project. iLeonardo does allow you to follow fellow notetakers and receive the information they find on a particular topic.
  8. Zotero
    Another Firefox extension, Zotero started life as a citation management tool targeted towards academic researchers. However, it offers notetaking tools, as well as a way to save files to your notebook. If you do a lot of writing in Microsoft Word or Open Office, Zotero might be the tool for you — it’s integrated with both word processing software to allow you to easily move your notes over, as well as several blogging options. Zotero’s interface is also available in more than 30 languages.

I’ve been relying on Google Notebook as a catch-all for blog post ideas — being able to just highlight information and save it is a great tool for a blogger.

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In replacing it, though, I’m starting to lean towards Evernote. I’ve found it handles pretty much everything I want, especially with the voice recording feature. I’m planning to keep trying things out for a while yet — I’m sticking with Google Notebook until the Firefox extension quits working — and if you have any recommendations that I missed when I put together this list, I’d love to hear them — just leave a comment!

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