Chapter 11. Don't Open That!


I don't read each e-mail when it arrives; I'm able to stay focused on my work.


This is getting boring. Cool, another e-mail; I'll just check it really fast.

Do you keep one eye on your inbox all day long? What does that do to your productivity? Let's face it: E-mail can be a phenomenal productivity tool, but it can eat your day alive if you let it. Dropping everything and attending to every e-mail that comes in throughout the day derails your productivity over and over again. Not only do you waste whatever time it takes for you to read, ignore, or act on a given e-mail message; it also takes time to refocus your attention on whatever you were doing prior to the interruption. Lots of people insist their overflowing inbox is beyond their control, but as a SuperCompetent, you must take steps to start getting a handle on it right away.

Control the Reflex

Remember Pavlov? In his famous experiment, he gave his dog a treat every time he rang a bell. Eventually the dog would salivate as soon as he heard the bell; it was a learned response. Every time our e-mail alerts go off, we salivate. Unfortunately, the reward isn't there, since the majority of incoming e-mail is junk. Out of every 10 e-mails you receive, how many are really important? One? None? E-mail has become the master, and we are the servants. Bring an egg timer from home and set it for 30 minutes. If you can't stop thinking about your e-mail, ...

Get SuperCompetent: The Six Keys to Perform at Your Productive Best now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.