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Don’t Let Your Email Control You: Tips to Boost Productivity

In today’s increasingly technological workspace, communication is as easy as ever. Anyone you need to talk to is just a click away via instant messenger, text message (who actually calls people anymore?), and, of course, email. Oh yea, and then there is that ancient artifact known as the fax machine. Legend has it that these machines carry paper messages to far off lands…or something like that. The point being, there are numerous ways to contact co-workers, supervisors, distributors, clients, employees, or anyone for that matter. Communication is everywhere! However, as communication has become easier and easier, it has also become more distracting. Just ask any teenager you see blindly walking down the street while looking down at their phone. Then again, you probably won’t be able to get their attention. But we digress. Communication, while an excellent tool for business, can also slow productivity…if you let it.

Don’t Let Your Email Control You

When it comes to business communications, email rules all. Some of us receive hundreds upon hundreds of emails on a daily basis. If you are not careful, your day could be spent (or better yet, wasted) reading and responding to each individual email. As you can imagine, this doesn’t leave a lot of time to do your actual work. The solution: close your email.

According to Daniel J. Levitin, a professor at McGill University, and Vinod Menon, the human brain constantly switches between two states of awareness: task-positive (actively focusing on a task at hand) or task-negative (wandering or daydreaming). Jumping back and forth between these two states – like when you constantly check your email (or Facebook) in the middle of other tasks – can leave your brain feeling “dizzy” and unable to focus.

Tips to Boost Productivity

  1. Close Your Email: Levitin recommends closing your email completely. Instead of leaving you email open all day long, set aside a specific time to check your email each day. In other words, treat your email like any other business task.
  2. Turn off Notifications: “It’s better to leave your email program off than to hear that constant ping and know that you’re ignoring messages,” said Levitin. “An email that you know is sitting there, unread, may sap attentional resources as your brain keeps thinking about it, distracting you from what you’re doing. What might be in it? Who’s it from? Is it good news or bad news?”
  3. Install Management Apps: There are apps available that can help make your inbox more user-friendly, thus increasing productivity.
  4. Don’t Stress!

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