You have someone answer your office phone so that you don’t jump at it, like a teenager, each time it rings. You don’t sit at the post office all day long, waiting for someone to put a letter in your box. So why do you constantly interrupt what you’re doing to review each and every email the instant it comes in?
The research is in and, according to the Stanford University News, people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information do not pay attention, control their memory or switch from one job to another as well as those who prefer to complete one task at a time.
Turn off all visible and audible signals on your computer that an email has arrived. If you use a smartphone, consider turning the signals off on it, too, unless you are in a situation where you are waiting for a particular message in an emergency situation. Then, check your email at regular intervals that are as far apart as possible for the type of legal work you do. This will allow you to better structure your work, devote uninterrupted time to the things that are really important, and not feel so frazzled and out of control at the end of the day.
To turn off email notifications in Outlook 2003 and 2007, go to Tools | Options. In the Options dialog box, on the Preferences tab, click the E-mail Options button next to E-mail. In the Email Options dialog box, select Advanced E-mail Options. This will open the Advanced E-mail Options dialog box, where you can uncheck all the desktop alert settings.
If we are slaves to our email, never really getting anything accomplished as quickly or as well as we’d like to, it’s no one’s fault but our own.