It’s true, and not only do I check it, but I like to address the messages as soon as they come in. Great customer service ends up meaning huge time sink and often times a loss of momentum for me. Interestingly enough, I spoke to my boss on the matter earlier in the year concerning only checking my email a few times a day (first thing, before/after lunch and late afternoon before calling it quits for the day). I explained to him that this isn’t feasible at all because if you don’t reply to someone’s message in what the sender considers a timely fashion, they will end up calling or in your cube to ask if you got their email. His response was that I need to check emails as they come in and prioritize when I respond to them (i.e. if you get an email from your boss it’s your #1 priority, no questions asked). He obviously didn’t get my point on the matter, and I didn’t pursue it further. The point is, checking the mail is part of the problem. To stop what I’m doing go up and click Outlook then process the message (who’s it from, what’s the subject) and then rationalize whether or not to read the message and further to respond. To add to the problem, our corporate policy is that everyone’s Outlook silently auto-responds to read receipts. So let’s say that I check the email and say “this isn’t pressing, I can respond after lunch” and the sender added the return receipt option. Well now they know I read the message, and the cycle starts anew.
Fast forward to last week. I decided I have had my fill. At home, I removed
checkgmail from my notification area and started detoxing, checking my personal email in the morning, after work and sometimes before bed. This week I started treating my work email a bit differently as well. If I’m in the middle of a task and a new message comes in, I do not check it until I’m at a logical stopping point. Thus far it’s worked out well and no one’s called me or shown up in my cube just to further disturb me (not yet). At home without gmail taunting me constantly my productivity has gone up a bit, and it’s afforded me the opportunity to get into using Twitter (@joshtronic) to communicate with people and not simply keep a log of witty statements and links to trite nonsense. It was yesterday that not constantly checking my email became more habit than a chore, which was nice. To add to it all, I’ve recently stopped checking my Google Reader constantly as well and the last 3 mornings I’ve started my day before 8am and with a morning jog. Definitely a reboot from the norm.