The Supervillain Sabotaging Your Productivity

Every superhero has a nemesis, a villain so evil the intrepid hero spends his entire super life trying to save society and humanity from the villainy perpetrated by this nefarious character. And in developing your own productive superpowers, you’ll likely face one of the most common supervillains that lays siege to your efforts: the execrable e-mail.

Stealthy Subversion

E-mail doesn’t directly attack your productivity; it goes about it in a very careful, subtle way. When you start working on a project, you’ll remember you need to return a message your boss sent out last week. Or when you’re reading a self-empowering book, your phone will notify you about a new e-mail. You might even get distracted just knowing you haven’t checked your e-mail in a while.

A number of studies have shown that getting distracted – even for a moment – by your inbox can be detrimental to your focus and productivity. It takes up to 20 minutes to get back into the working mindset, and you’re losing valuable productive time with each distraction. Think of how many times you check your inbox every day. 10? 20? Multiply that by 15 or 20 minutes, and you’ll have an idea of the amount of time you could have spent working.

Fight Back

It’s time to fight back against e-mail. It’s a useful tool, but it can also be hugely damaging to your productivity. These four strategies will help you take back control of your time and put e-mail in its place.

1. Turn off e-mail notifications.

No more pings or bouncing icons on your computer or your phone. It needs to be a conscious decision to check your e-mail, and not a reaction to some stimulus. Looking at your inbox gets to be automatic when you’re getting notifications all day. Close the app, turn off notifications, and make a choice to check your e-mail when it makes sense for you – not your inbox.

2. Declare an end to the e-mail day.

Your daily routine should include an e-mail curfew, especially for your work e-mail (you can decide if you also need a personal or school e-mail curfew). A good commitment is to not check your e-mail after 6:00 p.m. or before 8:00 a.m. If you really want to take back your time, don’t check it until 10:00 a.m., and use those two hours to get tons of work done.

3. Use an app to help.

There are plenty of apps that aim to help you keep your inbox under control and spend less time managing your e-mail. Google’s Inbox is one of the best if you have a Gmail account; it lets you snooze e-mails so they disappear from your inbox and come back at a later time; it organizes promotional, purchase, and trip e-mails; and it lets you create task-manager-like reminders. In short, it’s a perfect e-mail productivity app.

4. Use Unroll.me.

Another fantastic app that helps you keep your inbox under control – and lets you decide when to deal with your messages – is Unroll.me, which puts all of your subscription e-mails into a single message. It cuts out a ton of clutter, and gives you more control over which e-mails you want to read and which you want to delete. It also helps you easily unsubscribe from newsletters and other e-mails you don’t want.

Take Back Control

Just because your job, personal life, and education all depend on e-mail doesn’t mean you have to be a slave to it! Take back control, and send this supervillain back where it belongs. And don’t forget to help your fellow superheroes out by sharing your favorite e-mail management strategies in the comments!

Liked this? Check out 6 Email Templates You Should Have Ready!

Written by Dann Albright

Every superhero has a nemesis, a villain so evil the intrepid hero spends his entire super life trying to save society and humanity from the villainy perpetrated by this nefarious character. And in developing your own productive superpowers, you’ll likely face one of the most common supervillains that lays siege to your efforts: the execrable e-mail.

Stealthy Subversion

E-mail doesn’t directly attack your productivity; it goes about it in a very careful, subtle way. When you start working on a project, you’ll remember you need to return a message your boss sent out last week. Or when you’re reading a self-empowering book, your phone will notify you about a new e-mail. You might even get distracted just knowing you haven’t checked your e-mail in a while.

A number of studies have shown that getting distracted – even for a moment – by your inbox can be detrimental to your focus and productivity. It takes up to 20 minutes to get back into the working mindset, and you’re losing valuable productive time with each distraction. Think of how many times you check your inbox every day. 10? 20? Multiply that by 15 or 20 minutes, and you’ll have an idea of the amount of time you could have spent working.

Fight Back

It’s time to fight back against e-mail. It’s a useful tool, but it can also be hugely damaging to your productivity. These four strategies will help you take back control of your time and put e-mail in its place.

1. Turn off e-mail notifications.

No more pings or bouncing icons on your computer or your phone. It needs to be a conscious decision to check your e-mail, and not a reaction to some stimulus. Looking at your inbox gets to be automatic when you’re getting notifications all day. Close the app, turn off notifications, and make a choice to check your e-mail when it makes sense for you – not your inbox.

2. Declare an end to the e-mail day.

Your daily routine should include an e-mail curfew, especially for your work e-mail (you can decide if you also need a personal or school e-mail curfew). A good commitment is to not check your e-mail after 6:00 p.m. or before 8:00 a.m. If you really want to take back your time, don’t check it until 10:00 a.m., and use those two hours to get tons of work done.

3. Use an app to help.

There are plenty of apps that aim to help you keep your inbox under control and spend less time managing your e-mail. Google’s Inbox is one of the best if you have a Gmail account; it lets you snooze e-mails so they disappear from your inbox and come back at a later time; it organizes promotional, purchase, and trip e-mails; and it lets you create task-manager-like reminders. In short, it’s a perfect e-mail productivity app.

4. Use Unroll.me.

Another fantastic app that helps you keep your inbox under control – and lets you decide when to deal with your messages – is Unroll.me, which puts all of your subscription e-mails into a single message. It cuts out a ton of clutter, and gives you more control over which e-mails you want to read and which you want to delete. It also helps you easily unsubscribe from newsletters and other e-mails you don’t want.

Take Back Control

Just because your job, personal life, and education all depend on e-mail doesn’t mean you have to be a slave to it! Take back control, and send this supervillain back where it belongs. And don’t forget to help your fellow superheroes out by sharing your favorite e-mail management strategies in the comments!

Liked this? Check out 6 Email Templates You Should Have Ready!

Written by Dann Albright

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