Do you really need to check email constantly and answer right away without finishing other tasks in peace? What would be the worst thing that could happen if you simply ignored the inbox for the next two hours?
Usually the answer is “Nothing.” On the contrary: you might just be able to finallyfinish that monthly report—and you would no longer have that queasy feeling in your stomach. So let's turn off the new email notification / Desktop Alert in Microsoft Outlook!
Disable New Email Notification
Turn off the notification for newly arrived messages. It will only distract you; worst case, it might motivate you to interrupt and postpone an important but unpleasant task yet again. Even if you only take two to four minutes to answer a message “in between,” it will enormously slow down tasks that require your full concentration over an extended period. For each interruption of more than a few seconds, you will have to invest a few minutes more to reach full concentration again and get back to working at the same speed as before. So stop checking email all the time.
How to disable the new email notification / Desk Alert in Outlook
1. Outlook 2010: Click Options on the File tab to display the Outlook
Options dialog box
Outlook 2007/2003: On the Tools menu, select Options.
2. Outlook 2010: In the left pane of the Options dialog box, click Mail.
Outlook 2007/Outlook 2003: On the Settings tab, click Email Options.
3. Outlook 2010: Clear all check boxes in the Message Arrival pane.
Outlook 2007/Outlook 2003: In the Email Options dialog box, click Advanced Email Options. Clear all check boxes in the Upon arrival of new items in the Inbox pane (or at least clear Show Desktop Notifications and Play a Sound).
4. Close all dialog boxes by clicking OK.
If somebody is pushy or complains because you're not answering your emails within minutes, ask him or her politely to just give you a call next time, if it’s urgent. You could use the argument that a phone call would also let the inquirer find out whether you are even available at that time. In urgent cases, a phone call is the better choice anyway: an immediate dialogue that allows both of you to answer directly, instead of a series of alternating email monologues with wait times in between. Unless your job is to respond quickly to inquiries via live chat or email as part of a support or customer service team, it’s absurd to expect immediate answers to email messages.
If you are expecting an urgent and important message that is of the highest priority because you require it to continue your work, you might want to ask the sender to follow up after the time-sensitive message has been sent, for example with a phone call or text message (a.k.a. SMS). This is a better option than letting yourself get interrupted by every newsletter or junk mail message for the next five hours, or checking every two minutes to see whether the message has come in yet, because you will always find another subject in your inbox that will distract you. You could also agree with the sender on a time when the message should arrive. This way you will not need to check beforehand.
This will help you to focus on what matters most and be more productive.
What's your experience with the desktop alert and turning off the notifications? Please add a comment below to let us know!