Why Email May Be Controlling Your Life

One thing we all have in common, is that we spend a lot of time on email. Reading, writing, responding, forwarding, deleting — unfortunately, while some of it is productive time, much of it is not.

We’ll explore the subject of email over the next few posts on the Day-Timer Blog featuring Laura Stack, the Productivity Pro©.

Today’s question for Laura:

What are a few simple ways people can improve their email productivity?

Laura: Just as technology can interfere with personal time, it can also wreak havoc with your productivity during normal working hours. Yes, you can set your email to tell you the instant a new message arrives. No, you shouldn’t drop everything to deal with every email as it comes in.

Think about it. How many emails do you get in a single day? If you’re constantly checking your email, you’re constantly interrupting otherwise productive activities to deal with issues, which 99 times out of 100, aren’t important. Even if it only takes you a second to read a message, you’re still derailing your train of thought and wasting several minutes to get back on track. You don’t answer it anyway, leaving it in your inbox and adding to the stream-of-consciousness thinking in your head.

You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done when you say no to all the little technological distractions competing for your attention:

  • Turn off your email alerts. Go under your Tools menu in Outlook, select Options, then Email Options, and Advanced Email Options. You’ll see “When a new email arrives in my box, do the following.” Uncheck all those boxes.


  • Close Outlook completely. If you absolutely, positively can’t resist glancing at your email inbox, shut down Outlook completely. Turning off your alerts will prevent the envelope in the system tray from constantly reminding you there’s email waiting.


  • Check at regular intervals, as few times as possible. I don’t believe it’s realistic to only check once a day, but you shouldn’t be checking it 27 times a day, either. Find a balance in responsiveness to your colleagues and self-control in getting your important work accomplished.


  • Schedule work periods. Close your Outlook, put your IM on DND (do not disturb), forward your calls to voicemail, turn off your handheld, and shut down all technology, which will give you a period of time to concentrate. The big differentiating factor is control. Create a “bubble of silence” around yourself.


Laura Stack will share more insight and secrets on email productivity in an upcoming webinar on “Email Communication” hosted by Day-Timer on Monday, September 27.

Don’t miss this valuable hour, register today.



[Email photo by Bicarotte]

2 thoughts on “Why Email May Be Controlling Your Life

  1. That’s a great article. In my case it may be better labelled: ‘Why Facebook May Be Controlling Your Life’. :)

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