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Productivity Tip #1

Posted By Darren Rowse 14th of July 2005 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

I’m having one of those months where I realize I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. What with catching up from a month off, to adding new bloggers to some of my blogs, to interviews with a couple of major newspapers, to working on a two day per week research position, to updating 20 blogs, to deciding this is the week to completely rework my Amazon affiliate links on over 5000 pages of content, to the normal hundreds of emails and IM conversations each day, to trying to run a church (it’s a hobby/passioin), to speaking next week on a four day conference (I really should do some preparation), to trying to start writing a book, to conference calls at all hours of the night….

I’m realizing that I either need to get myself a PA or I need to manage my time a little better.

So today I spent a little time reorganizing an area of my life that takes way too much time – Email.

Here’s Darren’s Productivity Tip #1 (there may never be a #2… I have no time).

Turn down the frequency with which your email platform checks your email.

Until today I had Entourage checking for new email every 4 minutes – all day long. That meant ever four minutes my concentration was broken and a potential distraction from the task at hand entered my life with a lovely chime and pop up on my screen notifying me of the incoming email/s. Due to the volume of email that I get there was usually at least one email every 4 minutes.

Today I turned down the frequency. I could (and probably should) make it even less frequent – but I’m trying to step down slowly so now Entourage only checks email every 13 minutes.

I figure 13 minutes is about as long as I can hold a thought or concentrate for anyway – so an interruption at the end of it might not be such a bad idea. I’ll probably make it 20+ minutes though – because even after just 1 day I can already feel the impact it’s having. Less urgency, fewer interruptions and about one third of the chimes!

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • Hmmm…Guess this tip is nice, but let me say that this is more effective for a famouse problogger owner with 500+ Visitors a day ;)


  • Ken

    I will be sure to reduce my 2 e-mails a day to you…=P


  • Darren,
    D. Keith Robinson’s website, “To-Done” has some great productivity tips that you might be interested in…

  • I use Clear Context in Outlook to great effect.

  • Thanks for the link Jay.

    On Darren’s tip: That’s a great tip. I did that very thing a few months back and it’s been wonderfully effective. ‘cept I changed it to once every two hours. I do check manually quite a bit, but at least it’s not constantly distracting me.

  • Good tip. It’s something I started doing a long time ago. Many of my friends ise email like they do IM – Rapid fire! I stopped automatically checking my email and I only check email between stuff now.

    Also, you mention IM and such. I turn that off while I’m working. It’s a bigger distraction than it is useful.

  • In the early days, it can be quite exciting to receive emails, so you constantly check to see who has sent you what. Like Darren says, you can end up checking and being distracted constantly.

    I’ve switched to checking emails only three times a day, morning, late afternoon and late evening. That way it doesn;t consume too much time out of the day. I don’t get enmough mail to warrant checking constantly, and emails I receive tend to be able to wait at least 8 hours or so before a response is sent.

    I find it worse returning back from holiday to find a few thousand emails sitting there, this can take ages to sort and respond to.

  • As the wife of a pastor myself (ok, and online business type too), I definitely like the assistant idea!

  • Sorry about the link above…my bad. There’s a list of virtual assistants (80+) here:

  • I recently moved to two monitors (a main 24″ with the 15″ on the PowerBook serving as a secondary) which helps because I keep email open on the PB. I have personal accounts check infrequently, maybe a few times a day, but news releases and such come in at real time. A quick glance to the other screen and I see if it’s something important.

  • I have all my important mail going to my gmail account which I check only 5 or so times a day.

  • I’ve got a better idea, I’m seriously thinking about giving up on email all together. The backlog just keeps getting worse, and every day I’m confonted with more and more email, and the scary thing its all legit as well, GMail filters the spam wonderfully. Email really is the bane of the 21st century.

    A more serious tip though: turn off your “email comments to yourself” feature. When I was guest blogging here the amount of email I was getting doubled overnight. I do try to check my comments on my blogs, but I don’t need them clutering my already ridiculously full inbox, you’ll find it cuts down on your email a bit. What I tend to do is check comments twice a day through WordPress on my bigger sites, much more efficent this way.

  • There is a very good tip Darren. I’ve actually learned to tame my email a with Thunderbird. I almost have it down to a science.

    I actually prioritize my email accounts and set Thunderbird to check them more often by order of importance – some are set to be checked manually.

    Regarding the blog comments, I actually set a filter to send them to their own folders.

    Filters are good…very good. :)

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