Fighting Distraction with Focus

Most days I get dozens and dozens of emails, and these are just the ones that are legitimate. They’re from clients, vendors and co-workers. I love that I can use email to communicate quickly, how email provides a paper trail for records, and how it supplements my organization of tasks.

But I don’t love the way it complicates my life. 

In some ways, it’s made my life fragmented and frustrated. I crave the moments when I can get off the grid and leave all technology behind. 

Here’s an example: email is the bane of my existence when I’m trying to focus on a project or lengthy task.

Unfortunately, I’m of the makeup that, when I see the little box slide in at the upper right of my screen I feel like I have to check the email. If it’s a request for something that only takes a minute or two to complete, or a question that I can quickly answer, I will do it.  

The result? The project or task I was working on takes significantly longer to complete. The reason being, it takes a lot of focus and time spent to ‘get in the zone’ to work on some of my daily projects (blog posts and email campaigns). If I’m in that space, focused and working away, and then break focus to respond to a quick email, I then have to spend more time to get re-focused after dealing with email in order to pick up where I left off with the bigger project. 

This email distraction gets so bad that I have occasionally found myself with nearly a full day’s work to do when I check the clock at 4:45 p.m.

Obviously, this can’t continue.

About a month ago, my husband gave me the solution: Shut email off! Who knew?

I don’t shut it off for the whole day, of course, but each time I sit down to write a blog post, work on an email newsletter design, or focus on a project that requires my full attention, I start by turning my email off completely for an hour, or two at most. This way, I can work free of that particular distraction, and address emails after I have finished. I can cut my ‘getting in the zone’ time down to one round at the beginning, and work smoothly through whatever blog post or email campaign I’m doing so that I can efficiently manage my time and respond to emails in batches, instead of one at a time.

There’s no doubt about it. Life IS complicated. But we do have some control, and managing my emails is just another small way I’ve gotten around the complication and distraction that technology brings to my life. I feel like it’s simplified my life noticeably since I started doing it. For instance, a blog post that should only take me 1.5 hours to research and write takes only that amount of time, whereas if I allowed emails to distract me, it might take twice as long!

What are some of the methods you have put into practice for a simpler life? Feel free to share them in the comments area below!

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