Monday, April 04, 2011

Improving Productivity, part 1

I had a talk with my husband about how to increase productivity and maintain motivation at work. He said it is something he struggles with too, but he had quite a few good suggestions. I'm going to be changing my work habits to include them. Step 1 is actually pretty simple:

Turn off Outlook's email notifications.

Outlook defaults to popup notifications and a sound when you receive new mail. Not only do you see and hear new email arriving, but you get a tiny tantalizing snippet of the email to whet your curiosity. This is endlessly distracting, but for some reason, it never occurred to me to turn it off.

It took a little hunting to locate it, so here are some quick instructions for how to disable this feature in Outlook:
  1. Go to Tools
  2. Then click on Options
  3. In the Preferences tab, click on Email Options
  4. Click on Advanced Email Options
  5. Uncheck all the boxes in the section entitled "When new items arrive in my inbox"
There is no email that I receive that is important enough that I need to respond immediately. I would argue that almost no one gets email they need to respond to immediately. I'll still check it quite frequently; I just won't be interrupted when I'm working on something else.

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