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Productivity boost: Not letting yourself get side-tracked by email all the time ..

In today’s world, especially for those folks who work in the high tech industry, there are a lot of distractions to getting their work done. With social networking sites, especially such networks as Facebook and Twitter taking up a large amount of time of people (and with studies now calculating that office workers can spend a sizable portion of their office times on social networks), there can be a huge impact on the productivity of people. Now, it is not only the organization that suffers from this productivity loss, but individuals are also impacted. For somebody who gets easily distracted, it is not even necessary that these social networking applications be available on their machine, with even a common very useful application such as email proving to be a loss to productivity.
Consider the following scenario. You are doing some work, and are somewhat focused on it, and if it is somewhat complex, it takes time to think through and figure out a possible scenario, and then suddenly a small email popup appears, and you are distracted enough to click on the popup and see what the email message is about. However, in all this, what happens is that the original issue you were working on is lost, and if you were slowly making some progress on a complex issue, it will take time to get back to the issue. Now, this is something that happens to a sizable number of people, even if they do not explicitly realize the productivity loss that they are suffering. However, if you are more disciplined, there is a higher chance of you being more productive and hence being able to showcase your abilities further (and this results in an advance in your career as compared to that of your colleagues).
So what can you do ? The first thing I did was to turn off the pop-up that shows when a new email comes in (with a positive impact on the many presentations I do in office, where the pop-up coming in the middle of a presentation was very distracting). The next thing, and this was inspired by the message I saw from a very productive person in the office was: Set times to handle email, rather than be on the beck and call of email. For example, there was a person who had set a signature that mentioned: “I check email at every 3 hour intervals, checking email at 9 AM, 12 PM, 3 PM, and 6 PM; and if you need to get some information urgently, call me.”
Such a message was very impressive, and presented a great picture of the person as a disciplined person who would respond to your email, but not immediately. Further, there was a good indication of when you would get a response. I spoke to the person who had set this message, and I learnt that he follows this rule, only making an exception for emergencies; and his colleagues consider him one of the most productive members of the team. Something that you could try and see whether this works for you.

What’s a Disorganized Person to Do? Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done

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