Top 5 ways to avoid notification stress

We get notifications for everything nowadays. While some notifications are helpful, too many can actually be harmful. Tom Merritt offers five tips for keeping your cool when notification stress hits.

Top 5 ways to avoid notification stress

Notifications: They buzz, they chirp, they let you know your local sports team has scored a point. They have also been found to raise your cortisol levels and make you feel stressed, unhappy, and unproductive. You need them, but do you need ALL of them? Here are five things you can do about notification stress.

  1. Learn to say no. When an app asks you for permission to send you notifications, just say no. You can decide later whether to give it permission--if you decide it really needs it. Your default answer should always be no.
  2. If you've got a problem, declare notification bankruptcy. Go through and make yourself turn them all off. That's right, all of them. Not forever--just make yourself do it once.
  3. Only turn on notifications for anything you're absolutely certain you need. Text messages would be an obvious one. Or, there may be medical or other health-related apps where you know you'll need that notification. Be strict, and be honest with yourself.
  4. Give it a week, and wait until you miss them, to turn a notification back on. If you run into something where you really wished, multiple times, you had gotten a notification, and you're being honest, then you can turn it back on.
  5. Maybe get an app. One study showed that notifications were optimal in balancing information needs with stress if they were bundled and delivered a few times a day. An app called Daywise for Android provides that functionality.

Notifications are akin to somebody interrupting you to give you a cookie--it's annoying and rewarding at the same time. Wiping them all out and starting fresh is a great way to get past that. I can tell you're feeling calmer already.

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Image: iStockphoto/Natali_Mis