It’s VERY simple… wait for it… here it comes…
Close your email program.
Seriously. That’s it.
I’ve been doing this for the last week or so when I need to focus and just generally get, ahem, stuff done, and I swear my productivity has jumped about 800%.
If you have your email configured to automatically retrieve new mail every five minutes (like I do), email is a hyper-interruption machine. And it’s like a drug. I can’t help it… when I hear that mail *ding* sound I just HAVE to see what magic awaits in my inbox. Unfortunately, the tiny action of clicking over to the mail program pulls me out of whatever “flow” I was in and, as soon as I’ve deleted the LinkedIn Group notification I don’t care about, I have to spend WAY too much time getting back in the zone.
For me, on a typical day, the reality is that there is far more interruption than there is actual work being done — when the mail program is open. So now, I close it when I’m working and just I open it every hour or two to clean out the inbox.
Besides, if anything is really that urgent, I figure people know how to find me (there’s only about 16 other ways to get my attention).
Technology is never the problem, only a symptom. We must manage our tech as a tool, just like anything else… or there is a real danger it will manage us.