Being more efficient
Not long ago, I read a story in which someone compared our so beloved digital devices with slot machines, checking them again and again to see if anything new happened. And this is dangerous.
It creates an state of anxiety and dependency, distracting ourselves from anything we’re doing. If you spend long times in front of a laptop, you might consider this useful.
Mail twice per day
Trust me, that’s enough. Most of the time you check your email you do it similarly to how you get into Facebook. You follow an impulse. You don’t expect nothing important, just want to ‘have fun’. You look for something and you don’t know what. Just something. Have you ever consider how many emails are that important that need to be answered right away? Not many.
That’s why I propose to mark specific times to check our inbox. It depends on your schedule, but given the usually imposed 9–5 work day you could set 9 and 2 as the go-check-mail times.
Ok, all previous sounds good. You’ll save time and gain focus. That’s some output for sure. However, what happens when you gotta send a now-quick email? Gmail’s page is not the option. It will tempt you to stop and read those unread emails dancing around your inbox. Instead, have a one-off button. I use Mixmax. It let’s you compose new emails (and much more) from anywhere just with the click of a button (aka browser extension).
What about those important ‘need to be answered’ emails?
Alright. Sometimes we have to answer fast.
I’m an active user of the European ride-sharing platform Blablacar. Usually I just publish rides as a driver. When people make a booking, you have a certain amount of time to answer and accept it. Those emails are important and need to be answered on time. IFTTT and Pushbullet are my friends.
IFTTT is a weird name. An acronym as well. If This Then That. It sets hooks on apps’ events that trigger actions on other apps. So, for example, you can ‘say’:
Hey IFTTT, please do something when THIS email lands on my inbox.
Each of these statements is called a recipe in IFTTT jargon. So, I have set up a recipe that checks every time an important email comes in and triggers a push notification (something) into Pushbullet (Chrome extension available). That way, I make sure I don’t miss any (real) important email.
What happens with messaging apps? I’m not sure about you, but I got way too many messages and notifications every day. The overhead and waste of focus they take from us if tried to answer as they come is frightening. Here it comes handy the Do Not Disturb feature most smartphones come in with.
No calls (just priority contacts), no messages, no alarms. Just focus. You should use it.
Here, you can also apply the few-times per day checking rule. With mobile, for me it works best to set periods of time instead of fixed times. So, for example, I check my cell phone every 3 hours.
Hope all of this works for you as much as it works for me.