Up until last week I used to dedicate an entire screen on my desk to outlook so that I could see exactly when an email came in. I would immediately drop what I was working on at the moment and read / respond to the new email, possibly start working on something related to the email, then jump back to what I was originally working on.
I didn’t realize it at the time but this was an incredibly inefficient way to work. Jumping from task to task not only slows you from working through your to-do list, but it also causes you to lose focus on any thoughts or ideas you may have had to. If you have momentum and are being productive, then checking email at that same time makes absolutely know sense right?
Constant email checking falls right into the instant gratification stereotype that us so often attached to the word millennial. When we see that red number on our mail app, or a little unread mail icon on our desktop screen we can’t help but drop everything we are doing to see what it is that we don’t know. It’s not just with email either, when we see any kind of unopened notification on our phones, laptops, or other screens we drop anything and everything to go and check out what is often very pointless information or media.
For today only, close your email and turn off notifications for your email apps. Set an alarm to check your email for what you determine to be an appropriate amount of times per day (it’s less than you think) and answer your emails in bulk. For me I check an hour into work (checking first thing in the morning will completely change your to-do list for the day), an hour before lunch, an hour after lunch, and right before leaving the office.
I’m a week in and my to-do list has never been shorter, my inbox is below 50 for the first time in a month, and my overall stress levels are way down. This is a direct action from Tim Ferris’ book the four hour work week that has worked wonders for me and I think it will work wonders for you as well.