Read Time - 4 min
In "A World Without Email", Cal Newport discusses a study conducted at IBM in the 1980s that investigated the impact of email on productivity and focus. The company was an early adopter of email technology, replacing phone messages and handwritten notes. The engineers designed the email server size based on the amount of communication that occurred daily. However, after implementing the email system, it did not take long for employees to become overwhelmed by the ease of communication provided by email. In fact, according to Newport, employees communicated five to six times more than they had before the introduction of email, which caused the server to become overloaded within a few days.
In today's fast-paced digital world, email has become an essential tool for communication. However, it can also be a significant source of distraction, especially when trying to focus on deep work. Fortunately, there are several tools and strategies you can use to stop checking email while doing deep work. Here are some tips to help you pause your inbox and stay focused on the task at hand:
One of the most effective ways to avoid email distraction is to schedule specific times to check your inbox. This prevents you from constantly checking your email and breaking your focus. Try setting aside specific times during the day to check your email (e.g., once every two hours) and stick to that schedule.
Another way to avoid email distraction is to turn off notifications. These notifications can be extremely distracting and can tempt you to check your email constantly. Turn off notifications on your phone and computer, and set specific times to check your email instead.
There are several email management tools available (our team favorite is Superhuman) that can help you prioritize your email and reduce the time you spend checking it. These tools can automatically sort your email based on priority, importance, or sender, making it easier to focus on the most important messages.
It is worth noting that unfortunately at the moment, Superhuman does not support Pause Inbox. But they appear to have it on the roadmap based on this twitter correspondence:
Most devices have a "Do Not Disturb" feature that allows you to silence notifications and calls. Many people do not use the full capacity for customizing iOS Focus Modes which gives you very fine grained control on the types of notifications you need to see during different times of the day. Use this feature during your scheduled deep work sessions to avoid any distractions, including email.
Let your colleagues know that you are working on a deep work project and may not be checking your email as frequently. This will help manage their expectations and reduce any pressure to respond immediately.
Email can be a significant source of distraction during deep work. However, by implementing the above strategies, you can pause your inbox and stay focused on the task at hand. Remember that deep work requires concentration and uninterrupted focus, so it's essential to take steps to avoid any distractions, including email.