The simple problem is that most people are getting too many notifications about things that just don’t matter.
Great overview of the problems facing any notification system, and I love this suggestion at the end: regardless of how you want notifications to be delivered, reducing the quantity is probably a good idea.
I’ve never received a push notification.
Really. It’s great. Every time that box comes up from a new app asking permission to send me push notifications, I’ve said no, because none of them have ever been important enough to interrupt me at any time of day.
My phone will only vibrate in my pocket if I receive a phone call, a text message, or a calendar alarm. That’s it. And since I receive a low volume of all three, I treat them all seriously. If I get a text message, there’s a very good chance that an Instapaper server needs attention, so I pay attention.
My phone’s on, with volume up, right next to my head when I sleep at night, because I know that any reason for it to make noise in the middle of the night will be something very important that I should probably wake up for. Similarly, I always discreetly take my phone out of my pocket to see why it vibrated, even in situations where that’s non-ideal (like during a meal with friends).
If your notifications are so plentiful that you can’t treat them that way, are they really that important? Do you really need to be notified?