Bells and Whistles

English: On the theme of :Image:Alarm.gif, I m...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How do you feel about alerts and notifications? Do you mute audible notifications from email, social media and other outlets that offer them? When you receive any kind of visual badge or alert, do you respond immediately? These are questions that have been the subject of countless articles about productivity – both at work and at home. I am usually pretty careful about how I receive notifications. In my early days of social media, I wanted to know every time someone did anything remotely related to me, with all kinds of badges, pop-ups, emails, bells and whistles! As I matured in social media, I found myself whittling down the number of and type of notifications I was receiving. For the most part, I did so because I just didn’t feel the need to know these activities were taking place. Another reason is productivity. Long ago, I turned off audible alerts for my work email. The sounds are a distraction in that if you’re working on something and you hear an alert letting you know you that “You’ve got mail,” your first Pavlovian impulse is to stop what you’re doing and switch to your email application and read the new message. Furthermore, if at work, your next impulse is to take action upon that email, whether it be to reply to the sender, or take care of whatever the email is calling for.

We all do it. Even without a sound alert, I continually look for alert badges and signs that there’s something new in the hopper. Why do we do this? Well, personally, I don’t like to see anything accumulating in my inbox. Sometimes it’s just a matter of clearing the “new” alert off my screen. I know there’s new stuff there, I just don’t want to be reminded of it! LOL Same thing with social media – I don’t like having a bunch of red circles with little numbers littering my iPad/iPhone screen. I know…it’s all psychological! It can be annoying – especially if you have multiple devices running. How many of us have received an alert simultaneously on our iPhone, iPad and computer!

The other week, the management team at my hospital shared a presentation on the phenomenon of “Alarm Fatigue.” Have you ever visited someone in the hospital and heard all kinds of  beeps and alarms going off on the medical equipment that is attached to the patient? Well sometimes, when you are caring for a number of patients, and when you know that some of the alerts are not critical, all the alarms become like white noise and you may not be quick to respond. Of course, it can be a dangerous situation, which is why the Joint Commission, the hospital accreditation agency, is encouraging health care facilities to educate staff and create and adhere to strict policies about alarms, critical alarms, audible volume, etc.

Sights and sounds (or lack thereof) can be helpful, but can also be hindrances, and in some cases, dangerous. How do you respond to bells and whistles?

(#31WriteNow Challenge Day 15)

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