June 15

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Get rid of distractions and you’ll work better

By Ralph Varcoe

June 15, 2020

productivity hacks

3.9   Messages Will Derail

Productivity hack no.38 from '60 Ways to Hurray! by Ralph Varcoe.


I use a Mac, a PC, an iPhone, and an iPad. All have instant messenger and email on them. And no matter what device I’m working on I’m constantly interrupted by messages heralding themselves as they arrive, shouting “read me now!” I tell you it takes a lot of will power not to casually glance to see what it’s about….after all, who knows if it’s important, or more interesting?!

If something is really important to the sender they can call you, and if the person who’s calling you is important then there’s a way to make sure you can be reached as we’ve looked at in the previous section, 3.8.

Emails and messages are not important enough to interrupt your work. We’ve looked at batching tasks together and scheduling your workload, including dealing with emails in sections 2.10 and 2.13.

Let’s get rid of the distractions.

  • If you run Gmail through Chrome there’s an extension called ‘Inbox When Ready’ that will hide your Inbox for a defined period of time
  • Turn off the sound notifications alerting when a message has arrived
  • Mute notifications on WhatsApp and other messaging apps
  • Hide your email inbox by removing it from the app bar, or putting it in a group on the iPhone that’s with other message apps on the second page
  • Stop the email preview notifications in Mail, Outlook or whatever program you use for your emails - just how distracting is that little box that tells you the subject of a new email?

Find all the message related distractions and eliminate them. Then take control of your time and schedule specific sessions during the day when YOU want to deal with them (remember to touch them only once and either Do, Schedule, or Delegate).

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Ralph Varcoe

About the author

For over 20 years, Ralph has run sales and marketing teams across large enterprises and smaller start-ups, at companies such as Orange, Tata Communications, Virgin Media, Spirit Ai and others. He brings a wealth of experience in personal and professional development with a laser focus on enabling people to achieve more than they thought possible. He's a published author and musician with a passion for creating - be that change, the right solution, exciting campaigns, the right environment for customers to succeed, or podcasts, videos and written content.

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