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Don't leave your e-mail program running

Many people have become so addicted to checking their e-mail, that they leave their e-mail software running all the time.

This can have a devastating affect on your productivity, as each e-mail (regardless of its importance) interrupts you. It can sometimes take you up to 15 minutes to get your mind back on what you were doing.

Unless you work in Customer Service, you need to realise that e-mail is not the phone. You don't need to answer it immediately.

However, if you are used to answering e-mail as soon as it comes in, you are effectively training those around you that this is the best way to contact you - so they send you more of it. This creates a vicious cycle, in which you spend most of your day dealing with queries of low-value.

It's time to fight back. Set times of the day when you check and respond to messages, let others know about it, then stick to it. They will quickly realise that, if they need to contact you in a hurry, they will phone you. They'll also not bother you with minor issues, as they can find the answer quicker by going to someone else... or googling the answer.

Try it for a week - check your e-mail at 10am, 2pm and 4pm - and close down your e-mail program in between. See what a difference it makes.

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