Managing Distractions: The Inbox Ding

A few years back, I went to a professional development luncheon at a manufacturing company and had the opportunity to hear some words of wisdom from their CEO. She talked about some great big ideas like creating a positive work culture, maintaining safe working conditions, and business transition. But one of the most practical pieces of advice I took away from her time with our group was how she manages her email inbox.

She noted that rather be a slave to the “ding” of the email inbox noting a new message, she’s strategic about how she responds to email. She opens her inbox first thing in the morning and responds to anything she’s received overnight and sends out any emails that she needs to on any matters coming up that day. Then she closes out. She works on her projects and checks her inbox again right before lunch – and shuts down her inbox. After lunch, and then before she leaves for the day, she does the same thing.

The practice allows her to stay focused on the tasks or projects she’s working on for the day, rather than being distracted by responding to an email every ten minutes. It made great sense to me – we’ve all had those times when we see an email pop up as we’re working on something else, and it ends up hijacking an hour of our time to respond. Or we’ve been working hard on a task and see an email come through and think “I’ll respond in an hour, when I’m done” and it gets forgotten for a day or so in the shuffle.

I still haven’t put her advice fully into practice, but I’m finding that my days are much more efficient when I do and I actually send more thorough, thoughtful emails, by carving out a dedicated time to do so. If you’re finding yourself distracted by the thing, try putting her tip into effect for a week – and see if you too have more efficient days and effective email communications.

About the Author
Toni Scott is the managing principal at Morrison. To get in touch with Toni, please find contact information for Morrison here.


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