Notification Badge Anxiety Disorder 

I have a problem. I get anxious anytime I see a notification badge on my iPhone.

Be it Mail, Reeder or something else, those little red circles really get under my skin. I check my email constantly, am always refreshing Twitter and love marking RSS feeds as read just to kill the little bastards.

I — like most of you — am addicted to input. It’s a terrible side effect of growing up in the 90s, I suppose. But it’s slowly eating away at me.

I don’t blame Apple, or its terrible notifications in iOS. I really don’t blame the Internet, either.

I blame me.

I’m the one who signed up for all of these apps and services. I’m the one who went out and spent money on an iPhone. The phone can’t edit its notification settings, or what apps are installed on it. I’m the user; it is the machine.

While services like Twitter or Google Reader aren’t bad, my anxiety concerning unread items doesn’t add value to my life. It does quite the opposite, actually. I find myself constantly distracted my iPhone throughout the day, but to be honest, I don’t mind it. I like having little excuses to sink into my own little world, instead of working or connecting with those around me. Killing off red badges is really just a bonus.

But I know its not good for me.

So, what is someone like me to do? I’ve already canned Facebook and some other services that didn’t do much for me besides waste time. I’ve taken almost every game off of my computers and iOS devices.

This afternoon, I disabled push notifications for Twitter replies on my iPhone. I know this seems silly, but I get a ton of replies, and rarely — if ever — are they super urgent. I am still receiving notifications for direct messages, however, as I use them often for talking with people quickly and easily. Time will tell if they make the cut in a few days.

I’ve made a few other changes on my iPhone as well. I’ve removed non-critical email accounts from my iPhone. I’ve changed OmniFocus for iPhone’s badge settings to just show overdue tasks. Reeder and Instacast lost their badge, too.

Now, getting rid of the red circles doesn’t really solve my problem with wanting — no, craving — distracting input. A few days into the week, I’m still going to want to be distracted from real work. That said, I’m hoping that getting rid of some of the things that have added to this will help.

Baby steps.