I use the notifications as my only means of navigation around the cafe. I only use the cafe index maybe 3-5 times a day when I am wanting to see if a forum has something new in it. Otherwise, I visit the cafe when an e-mail arrives in my inbox so I am not constantly checking to see if there is anything new. It works like a charm.
Oh yeah, on average I have about 20 e-mails in the morning, I probably get a couple hundred each day if I am on a lot, but I use G-mail for my cafe stuff, so that's not a problem.