Your brain isn't wired for quick-switching tasks, but it's what you want to do to avoid work you don't love. A multitask researcher suggests assigning 15-minute minimums to your frequent click-overs, like email, to force yourself into making real decisions about work.
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Clifford Nass, author of The Man Who Lied to His Laptop: What Machines Teach Us About Human Relationships, tells the video interviewer at GigaOM what we already know — that many times, checking email is more about getting away for a few minutes than actually expecting a great, informative, day-changing email to show up. But that email-checking can run roughshod over your best intentions to get actual work done.
How to fight your worst inbox tendencies? As Nass suggests (around the 3:10 mark), you can force yourself to make email a 15-minute affair. If you know you'll have to spend 15 minutes on your email, you'll both save your check until there's 15 minutes' worth of messages, and you'll be less apt to kill an entire 15 minutes on an email whim.
Nass has a few other good suggestions in the video, some familiar and along the same lines of making the thing you switch over to your next actual priority, not just a place to "check". He's also not a fan of notification tools and offers revelations about how team psychology can be so strong as to make people actually like Microsoft's Clippy.