With email, this does not happen. With all the talk about spam and viruses and phishing emails that make you a victim of email, it is easy to forget that email does put you in control. You can check your emails when and how often you want, and you can reply when it pleases you most. The great advantage of email vis-à-vis the phone and instant messaging and other walkie-talkie-like forms of personal communication is its asynchronous nature.
Avoid Email Interruptions
All that said, it is still a good idea in the light of efficiency to deal with an email — reading and deleting it, replying or filing it — the moment you read it first. This helps tame email overload, but if you have your email client check for new mail every 5 or just 15 minutes (and are either tempted or diligent enough), it makes email a horribly interrupting medium.
Fortunately, it is easy and hopefully helpful to
- turn off automatic mail checking in your email client.
Less Administration, More Action
For a maximum of productivity (and fun is certainly more productive a use of your time than spending weeks on email every day),
- set aside a few dedicated times for dealing with email every day and
- check for new messages only then.
Of course, this plan still allows for a lot of flexibility. You could have your email client check the email account every few minutes and set up filters — looking for specific senders or subjects, for example — that notify you of messages that are worth the interruption while all other messages are only turned to once or twice every day.
If you think this, turning to urgent mail while postponing the less important, is just what you do if you check for mail in five-minute-intervals, you are probably right. Fortunately, it is usually not necessary to visit and read and ponder all these postponed messages twice or three times. If you turn to email only a few times every day, you can spend more time on anything but redundant administration.