More than any other activity in our workday, email is the worst offender of wasting time. If you find this is a major distraction for you, follow these 5 suggestions:
1. Shut off the automatic notifications when emails arrive in your inbox. The noise immediately detracts from the task at hand, and consumes more time to refocus again.
2. Change the settings on your social networking sites that automatically notify you of new activity. You don’t need to know everytime someone has added you as a friend on Facebook or has invited you to join an online group. Check your sites only at specified times, preferably no more than once a day.
3. When you look at your inbox, immediately find the emails that can be handled in less than 2 minutes. Put the other ones in your email folders, (ie) reference, client responses, and go back to those during the time you have scheduled for those tasks. Emails should not remain in your inbox. If you leave them there, each time you open your email you are rereading them, and thinking about them. Time and focus wasted.
4. If you know that you will never answer an email, delete it right away.
5. At the most, check email only twice a day. Once in the morning and at noon, or at noon and at closing. Let people know when you will be checking your email, set up an automatic responder saying that these are the times I check my email. If there is something urgent, then the sender will know to pick up the phone and call you.
You will find that you are remaining focused and more productive if you keep your email in check.