Normally when I want to focus on my writing, I shut down email and Twitter until I meet my time or word count goal. I tend to do this in stretches, reward myself with some social media, and then shut it off and write again.
The last few months though, I’ve been either moderating or teaching a class. While I’ve never claimed to be available 24/7, I don’t want a message to languish for hours if I can avoid it. But if I leave my email open that little red indicator number tempts me to check my Inbox.
How to cope? I made a few rules. No not the kind I need to follow. I mean for Mac Mail.
First, I turned off the number indicator and the sound notification (Mail, Preferences, General).
Mac Mail–and Outlook if you're on a PC–lets you decide how to handle your email (Mail, Preferences, Rules). One of the ways I use rules is to move messages into relevant folders so I can handle them separately from my Inbox.
I have one for the current PRO class, one for my Scrivener class, one for my Golden Heart finalists group, and so on. At a glance, the unread messages number for each folder tells me whether I have emails in any of them so I can choose to deal with the messages now, or later.
This keeps key messages from getting lost in my Inbox, and makes the Inbox easier to wade through.
Additionally, if the message is something I want to make sure I handle right away, I have additional action in the rule that makes the Mail icon bounce in the dock. That way, Mail only commands my attention for the messages that require it. The rest can wait until I'm on a break.
How do you manage distractions when you're trying to write/work?