I’ve written before about ways to manage the distractions of email, IM, and other beeping, whizzing, vibrating devices, but given a recent surge in media interest in the topic (see my post here), I think some of it bears repeating.
Two techniques for managing email that I’ve found to be most helpful are 1) reducing the frequency with which my email program downloads emails (I set it at every ten minutes); and 2) muting the alert sound on my email program. Without that little email bell going off every 42 seconds, I can actually maintain a fairly steady stream of concentration. In fact, sometimes I forget about my emails altogether.
I leave the sound on for my IMs — somehow having the icon blinking doesn’t catch my attention the way the audio alert does. And IM is supposed to be more immediate matters, so I don’t mind being interrupted.
Familiar as I am with the lure of the PDA, I generally keep it in my home office when I’m not working. In fact, I turn it over so that I don’t see the little blinking light that signals new emails as I pass by the room. I also turn off the audio alert for emails — enough is enough.
How do you manage the onslaught of technological distractions?