Email distracting you? Work/Life Video with Dyana Valentine

Dyana ValentineToday’s question/issue is: 
I get easily sidetracked. I’ll be working on a project and an e-mail will come in that requires me to put out a fire immediately, which means I lose my momentum and have a lot of trouble getting it back. Any advice?

I’ll answer below and in this video:

Freelancer Or Fireman? from Dyana Valentine on Vimeo with additional videography and participation by Luke Mysse and Melanie Orndorff.

Give us your answer in the comments and tell us what work/life balance questions you struggle with and I’ll answer them in future videos. Here goes…

Here’s the short answer: Keep your head down and e-mail off when you are working on the project at hand. Period.

Here’s the longer answer:

1) Don’t play e-mail peek-a-boo: My pal, Luke Mysse wrote this brilliant piece of advice in his post of the same name. The bottom line is, open e-mail when you have time to read emails once and respond.

2) Tough love alert: Luke also wants to know why you are checking e-mail? Is it because you are addicted to that constant flow of messages (most of which is spam anyway)? Do you get a hit off of it or do you really need to be checking?

3) You are a freelancer, not a fireman: Your client’s crisis is not your emergency. And it is very unlikely that your gig is (literally) saving lives, though you may be making terrific contributions to the world.

4) Multitasking is a myth: Deep concentration is required for us to stay focused, learn and create. If you allow interruptions, studies report that it takes 20 minutes to get back into that effective state of concentration. Can you really afford that?

Lifehacker did a great interview on this topic with Dave Crenshaw, who wrote The Myth of Multitasking: How “Doing It All” Gets Nothing Done.

How ’bout you? Do you check your e-mail while you are in the middle of something? Get sidetracked easily? Fess up in the comments or suggest your own interruption-free or firefighting tip.

Learn how to go from self-starter to self-finisher and find cool tools to grow your business on my site.

Listen to BTW: [audio:]

You can hear more from Dyana, Luke and Melanie Orndorff here.

5 thoughts on “Email distracting you? Work/Life Video with Dyana Valentine

  1. Ilise Benun

    I recently discovered that the reason I check email is definitely for the “hit.” I started unsubscribing from all sorts of newsletters I wasn’t reading and suddenly was getting a lot less email — and feeling almost lonely because of that! Am I alone in this?

  2. Dyana Valentine

    I can dig it, Ilise. I felt a little lonely after a recent e-mail subscription purge–but it only lasted a day or so. Then, I felt a whoooosh of relief when I came home one day (leaving the computer for 2-3 hours) and found 45 emails awaiting action/attention, instead of the usual 80+. At that point, I felt all peacocky and proud with a smidge of !fyew!

    I would much rather get heartfelt and just-for-me e-mails (in general) than “hits” any day.

  3. Sharon Bending

    Oh my gosh, sometimes you just need to be told the obvious for it to sink in! My problem is that I leave my email open all day and it automatically checks every 10 minutes, so whenever I hear the “ding” I stop what I’m doing and go over to it to see what it is. I think I need to shut it down while working on something and that is going to make a HUGE difference. I have also allowed my clients to become accustomed to quick responses so this will be interesting. Thanks for the post.

  4. Dyana Valentine

    ahhh, Sharon: I’m so with you. I can still hear the “ding” even though it’s been disabled for the last two years (which I highly recommend). Even if you trained yourself to ignore the alarm, you would be interrupted by the idea of it. YES, three cheers to closing the software and even go a bit further and set a timer for 20-45 mins of uninterrupted time. You know, even though your clients are trained to ping you whenever–that means they are trainable and will get used to you responding “in good time” versus “rightnowshe’stherewaitingformetoaskthis time.” Good luck and please report back:)

  5. Pingback: Feeling distracted? Stop fighting fires. — Dyana Valentine