Dealing with email

Avoiding distractions is perhaps the biggest keys to success in any profession, but especially for scientists. Perhaps the biggest distraction of them all is email.  If you’re like me then you probably receive 50-100 emails per day (on average this is 5-10 per working hour).  This constant stream can kill your focus if you allow it to.  Here are the things that I do to deal with email:  

  • 1. Turn off automatic notifications on your computer and phone
  • 2. Keep your email program closed most of the day.  
    • It’s ok to peek in on your email while waiting in line for coffee or something like that but for the most part you want to ignore it.
  • 3. Only answer emails once or twice a day and keep your replies short.
  • 4. Try to clear your email inbox every day.  
    • This is called inbox zero which has been described by Merlin Mann of 43 folders and is a modification of of David Allen’s getting things done (GTD) system.  Videos are embedded below. This system provides a framework for deleting, delegating, and responding to emails
  • 5. Use text expander for bits of same text that repeatedly send off.

Trust me if you incorporate these tips into your workflow, your life will change dramatically.