Going the distance

Put email in its place to safeguard focus and productivity

By Edward T. Creagan, M.D. July 15, 2014

Need more help?

If the stress in your life is more than you can cope with, get help right away.

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
    1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Go to the nearest hospital or emergency room
  • Call your physician, health provider or clergy
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness
    1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

Imagine it's a typical Saturday and your to-do list reads list this: go to the post office, go to the grocery store, get a haircut, and buy a birthday gift. Most people, by instinct and by habit, batch these activities so that they're not traveling back and forth between the cleaners and home, then back to the store, then back home again.

You need, for your own survival, to apply this philosophy to email. Every time you open an email, it siphons off focus and energy. The"Harvard Business Review" documented that it takes, on average, about 20 minutes to get back on task after you're been interrupted. Those 15 to 20 minutes to recalibrate are a consistent figure from the literature.

Thus, many time management experts suggest accessing email no more than three times a day — late morning, midafternoon and late afternoon.

This tactic requires discipline, but it will enable you to get done what really needs to be done and not be swept away in a sea of emails. Does this make any sense? Weigh in because we are all struggling with technology tyranny in our lives.


Edward T. Creagan, M.D.

Follow on Twitter: @EdwardCreagan

Join the discussion at #Stress.

July 15, 2014