Limit Email Interruptions in 3 Easy Steps

Blog Post created by lisa.crilley Advocate on Mar 11, 2015

How often do you check your email?  Many email programs have a default setting to check for new emails every 5 minutes.  If you respond to every “refresh,” in an 8 hour work day, you could be interrupted by email 96 times.


Imagine this scenario – you start writing a report and the little mail icon slides across the bottom of your screen.  You then jump over to your inbox, read the email, decide to respond later, and go back to working on your report.


According to recent research, it can take up to 15 minutes for your brain to pick back up where it was before the interruption.  Completion of your report is now taking longer and longer and longer.  And in that 15 minutes, you may have received 3 more batches of emails . . . it’s a never ending cycle.


Change this scenario! Be proactive with your email by using the 3 steps of A.W.E.


AWARENESS – How often do you want to check your email? Checking in every 45 minutes limits your interruptions to 11 per day.  Or every 2 hours – resulting in 4 interruptions.   Possibly you want to check your email once in the morning and once in the afternoon.  You decide.


WORK – Create the structure to help you follow your new plan.  Change the refresh setting in your email program so you aren’t distracted.  Or change your “new mail” notification settings. Or close your email program completely.  Or, if you need to access your email program to retrieve data or use the appointment function, choose the “work offline” option so you aren’t distracted.


EVALUATION – After a trial run, what worked?  What would you like to change?  Perhaps you decide to check email in the morning at 10:30am instead of 8:00am, to give you time to accomplish an important task within your first hour of arriving in your office.  Or maybe you decide you need to check email every 30 minutes so you can be in touch with coworkers more consistently. 


Once you’ve had the opportunity to work through the 3 stages of A.W.E. a few times, you will find the perfect email system for you. Remember: this is an evolving process, not a set-in-stone rule. As your needs change, repeat these steps of A.W.E. and adjust accordingly.


You can create a fine balance between interruptions and responsiveness!