Check Email Away From Your Desk To Stay Productive At Work

Check Email Away From Your Desk To Stay Productive At Work

An inbox full of messages is a potential productivity disaster, but you can stay focused at your desk by only dealing with email at a distinct location.

Image: Monkey Business Images (Shutterstock)

Nicole Antoinette from Life Less Bullshit shares how she always deals with email:

Now, I only check my email a few times a day and when I do, it’s while standing up with my laptop perched on a small counter in the kitchen. That counter is the perfect height for a make-shift standing desk, and by only checking email from that one specific spot I’ve managed to train myself not to click over to it when I’m doing other types of (more important) work.

Forcing yourself to relocate to deal with email makes it easier to divide your time between email time and work time. Even if you work in a traditional office, you could pull this off by taking a tablet or laptop to a break area, or outside in the fresh air. If you have to send quick messages throughout the day, consider using a send-only account at your desk, and reading all of your messages from a different location.

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  • I really like the idea of checking and responding to email in a dedicated spot and plan to try it, although I’m not sure it entirely solves the problem.

    Maybe it’s just me, but a decent chunk of my work simply cannot be done without my email client open and available for consultation or retrieval of information (not responding to messages, just “using” their content, referring to past information, etc.). Yes, there are certain things I do where I’d close the email client and go into a creative zone, but that’s not the complete picture. So ultimately, my email still has to be open at my desk and there’s still the danger of distraction from it.

    What works for me is turning off all alerts: no pings, no pop-ups.

      • Yes, I do, but I don’t connect to my work email with it – life’s too short! (However, when I try this strategy it will be by taking my iPad, which I do use for work email, to another part of the office to check and deal with routine email correspondence.)

        Not sure I get the point of your question.

        To clarify my initial observation: I have a desk job (I’m an editor) and for certain portions of my work I refer frequently to material that’s in my email client – I’m in and out of it all the time. So my email client needs to be open on my desktop and it’s simply not an option to keep it closed and only check emails a few times a day (regardless of whether that’s at my desk or in some other location). For that reason, I need to use other strategies to prevent email eating away at my productivity and turning off alerts is one of them.

          • > Open and ready for consultation doesn’t necessarily mean foregrounded.
            > Apparently has never tried turning off his alerts or would realise this is the more disruptive aspect of email, as opposed to simply having it open (much easier to ignore a new message sitting in your inbox if it hasn’t whistled in your ear and bounced up and down on top of whatever you’re working on the moment it arrives).

            Giving up, mate…

  • Love this idea. Works perfectly with “inbox zero”. Just process your email in a given location. I too work out of my “mail client” but spend most of my time in the “follow up” folder doing the work and trying not to venture into the actual “inbox”.

  • Years ago, it was possible to set outlook to check mail twice a day but I can’t do that now, probably a policy setting.
    Some companies do set deliver email twice a day just like real mail.
    Sometimes you need to get something straight away from a supplier or something. Sometimes I just shut down outlook if I don’t want any distractions.

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