« Back to Blog November 9, 2015 | Design Career

Stop Checking Your Email and Get More Work Done

Imagine you had a coworker that constantly needed you to answer questions for them. So much so, that they’d come to your desk a dozen times a day, interrupt you in meetings, and even call you when you’re at home trying to relax. You would never allow this to continue.

So why do we allow email and other notifications to interrupt us throughout our day in the same manner?

Because we’ve been trained to think email is more important than the work we’re trying to get done. Every time our computer dings or phone buzzes we drop everything to see what it is. This is an absolutely insane way to operate.

This can be a tough concept to embrace when you’re used to reading and responding to emails as they arrive. When you read and answer emails as they arrive, you are letting other people dictate how you are spending your time. As soon as you let other people control your daily schedule you’ve lost any hope of being productive. You need to set limits on how communication gets to you so you can actually do your job.

Despite the way so many people act, every email is not urgent. One of my favorite quotes about email comes from Joel Kelly of the Not a Real Job podcast, and it’s that “There’s no such thing as a marketing emergency.” Problems do come up in our line of work, a website may go down or files may need to be edited, but no one’s life is ever on the line. It won’t kill you, or anyone for that matter, to wait until you’re ready to read and respond to an email.

That being said, you need to set the right expectations with the people you are emailing. I let my clients know that I only check my email first thing in the morning, before I go to lunch, and at the very end of my day. (For some people, that’s still too many times.) By letting people know that you won’t be responding to emails until certain times of the day, you can set the right expectations for how you communicate and how they can better communicate with you.

When you don’t allow notifications to constantly interrupt your day, you’ll find you will get much more work done than before. Being able to work in uninterrupted stretches of time is much more efficient. I guarantee you can get more done in 90 minutes uninterrupted than you could in four hours with interruptions in between. Protect your focused work time and get more done.

Turning off notifications on my phone for 90% of my apps was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. No more email, facebook, instagram, or any other app whose interruption isn’t immediately vital. Make checking these distracting apps a conscious choice. “I’m going to take time to check facebook now” is a much better alternative to “my phone made a noise, better stop what I’m doing and check facebook.”

Using “Do Not Disturb” mode helps even more by making sure nothing distracts me during my focused work time. Do not disturb mode stops all texts, calls, and notifications from popping up while activated. On iPhone, you can even schedule specific do not disturb times each day. Make use of this great feature to help you stay on track and prevent unnecessary distractions when you need it.

You need to take control of your day if you want to maintain your sanity and get your work done. Take one of the easiest steps possible right now, and quit your mail program or close that browser tab. Work for the next hour with your email off and see how much more you can get done. I guarantee you’ll get more done than you can imagine.

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