Top-Shelf Tip No. 243:

"The shorter way to do many things is to only do one thing at a time."

Richard Cecil

Four Strategies To Stop Over-Checking Your Email

It's only natural to want to check your email. It's easy to scroll through your inbox in between meetings or before you move on to the next task. Most professionals check their email an average of 15 times a day, although many check in much more frequently.

Why do people check in so much? Matt Plummer says it's more than a dopamine rush—it's something called cognitive tunneling. Also known as tunnel vision, this phenomenon occurs when your focus narrows during periods of elevated stress, making you essentially blind to things that you would normally notice.

When cognitive tunneling happens, you focus on the obvious things in your environment and default to what you repeatedly do. For many, this means checking emails. Fortunately, there are ways to overcome cognitive tunneling and quit overdoing it with your email check-ins. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we highlight Plummer's strategies for scaling back on this repetitive and mindless habit.

1. Make email more obscure. Plummer suggests turning off notifications and removing the mail icon from your start menu or task bar. If you use Gmail, open your email in a different window than the one you use for other browsing. You can close your email entirely, but you may find that more time-consuming than over-checking. You can also download apps that temporarily block access to your email.

2. Make your priorities more salient. The best way to make your priorities more salient is to schedule time to complete them, says Plummer. In addition, do a daily calendar-priority sync. List your top three priorities and review your calendar to ensure you have time to complete them. By explicitly listing your top priorities, Plummer says you'll be more likely to resort to them when transitioning. It helps to put emails you need to respond to on your to-do list so that you can compare the priority level of all your tasks in one place.

3. Develop a task transition routine. Before starting your day, Plummer advises determining what you're going to do when you finish a task. If you aren't scheduling your tasks, a good routine begins with visiting your to-do list and reviewing your high-priority items.

4. Reduce workplace stress. According to Plummer, stress leads to cognitive tunneling because it causes your brain to concentrate its resources. By reducing stress, you decrease the likelihood that you'll end up with tunnel vision. Workload is one of the most common workplace stressors, causing you to ruminate on questions you aren't sure how to answer. To reduce stress, proactively answer those questions.

Plummer says that the most productive people do what they feel is most important more of the time than anyone else. If you want to get more out of your day, you must avoid being driven by subconscious forces. Instead of mindlessly checking your email, commit to checking it only when you intend to. Use the strategies above to guide you along the way.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Matt Plummer founded and leads Zarvana to help people improve their performance, increase their productivity and assure their sustainability by incorporating research-informed habits into their lives.

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