To keep myself from getting distracted by too many notifications on my phone, I ask myself the following questions whenever a new category pops up:
- Will I need to act on it? (Likes/favorites are nice, but I don’t need to respond.)
- How time-sensitive is it? (“Your ride is here” is more time sensitive than planning a get together for next weekend.)
- How important? (“Server down” is more important than a project update. A conversation is more important than a newsletter.)
- Is it actually for me, or is it an ad for the app service?
Then I turn off what I don’t need, turn off sound on the less urgent ones, and customize sounds for the most important ones.
So I hear when a text or instant message comes in, but not email or social media. When I pick up my phone I see emails, mentions & replies, but not favorites or boosts, etc.
It helps me a lot with alert overload. YMMV.
I had to clean up a spam flood last week. A reader sent me an email that Speed Force’s Facebook feed appeared to have been hacked. TL;DR: someone had posted a couple dozen spammy pictures to the site’s Flickr group, which were then auto-shared to Facebook and Twitter. Fortunately there was no unauthorized access, just misuse of an open forum, or cleanup could have been a lot worse.
So I removed all the posts from Facebook and Twitter, replied to all the reports, posted an “oops” on each network and the blog itself, banned the spammy account, and tightened moderation on the group.
- Don’t auto-share anything that you don’t control.
- Moderate all the things!
- Maybe notification alerts aren’t such a bad idea after all.
All I wanted was a plain roll of duct tape!
The good news is, researchers have discovered The Cure For Information Overload. The bad news is, it sounds tricky to implement.