This is part of my Tech Workers' Guide To Distraction Free Work
I used to leave my email (e.g., Outlook, Apple Mail) open on my computer all the time. Every time a new message arrived, I’d hear a pleasant ding. Then I’d be tempted to drop everything and see what awaited in my inbox.
The root problem is that I crave novelty, and new emails are more exciting than my day-to-day work. Consequently, leaving my email open is a huge distraction.
Nowadays, I close my email and only open it at 9 am and 2 pm. At those times, I read and respond to messages and then close my email.
I even scheduled a “Check Email” recurring appointment for 9 am and 2 pm on my calendar, so I don’t worry about forgetting to check it.
Some people recommend adding a line to their email signature to let others know that they’re not constantly checking their email. For example,
I’m trying to be more productive and only check my email at 9 am and 2 pm, Mon. - Fri. Thank you for your patience.
Take action: Keep your email closed except for specific times. Schedule time to check your email.
Tech Workers' Guide To Distraction Free Work
Practices: Just Say No
- Just say No
- Stop Looking For Drama
- Beware Of Taking On Extra Responsibility
- Make an “I won’t do” list
Practices: Say Yes
- Track your distractions
- Stay focused with a To Do list
- Make a “Big Rock” list
- Follow the 2-minute rule
- Try the Pomodoro Technique
- Make a list of questions
Practices: Control Your Physical Environment
- Find your Den of Productivity
- Eliminate distracting belongings
- Limit disruptive noise
- Listen to music
- Silence your phone
Practices: Control Your Digital Environment
- Close your email
- Leave social media
- Close your browser tabs
- Limit distractions from Slack
- Try an app blocker
Practices: Get Organized
What do books say about distraction free work?
“You could try to pound your head against the wall and think of original ideas — or you can cheat by reading them in books.”