Do you feel as though sometimes you just don’t know what to do, when to do it, and where you should be when doing it? We are bombarded with email and social media that have no value, eat up our day, and limit proactive behaviors. Then we masterfully debate whether we should be focusing on these irrelevant assignment of priorities of which to respond, unsubscribe, or delete.

Where did it all go?
Where did it all go?

I recognized these life sucking behaviors by listening to one of my favorite audio books The Four Hour Work Week that helped me shift course and become more focused on what I need to get done in one day. My output has increased dramatically and as a result, work less.

Every interruption takes at least 10 seconds to reconnect with our previous thought and resume progress. If we received 60 emails per day then that would amount to 1 hour of time (24 day work month is one entire day) that was absorbed through the irritible sensation to check or hope that the one email that came in would make or break our day. These brief lapses occur because of the nervous habit to check email, have the automatic send/receive turned on, and shifting attention to meaningless tasks which if anything suck the life out of the entire day.

Let me share some of the most sinful consumers of our time.

  1. Checking email every 5 minutes on computer or PDA phone
  2. Automatic send/receive for email on computer or phone.
  3. Social media instant messages and email notifications during the day.

Here are some of my recent changes that have and will allow me to work less and save some the frustration of handling email social media.

1. Fine yourself when you check your email.

I listened to Marshall Goldsmith, a global leadership guru, talk about how we can adjust negative behaviors overnight if we are committed to change. He says to pick your favorite charity, determine what the negative behavior is, and then every time you engage in that behavior then you must pay a certain amount to that charity. The behavior could be saying a bad word, using a slang phase, or in this case check email. In one week period I went from checking email to 25 times to 15 times, to 12, to five. Now this means that I do owe $57 dollars to RPAC which I do already contribute to but am less distracted and more productive.   Why?  Cause I hate to lose money.

2. Auto-responders.

Most people ask you questions by email that 1. they already know the answer to, 2. could find the answer if they just spent some time surfing the web, and 3. could visit your own website to get what they want. To prevent this information bottleneck from happening two things must happen.

  1. You must add enough content, descriptions, videos, and downloadable materials to your website or blog to streamline decisions. Every website should have a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page to answer common questions.
  2. Train inquiring contacts that you only check email a few times a day but will provide you with information immediately via auto-responders to answer commonly asked questions. Always leave a mobile phone number in case the problem is an emergency. Add a message at the end that asks for follow up to the auto-responder if needed.

These two items can reduce the amount of messages in your inbox and save the amount of times you have to reply.

Try emailing me at the following and see what happens:

All of these auto-responders can conveniently be found on a Help page

3. Disable Send/Receive.

Avid email users have two major distractions. First, the auto-message preview that pops up in the bottom right corner that catches the corner of your eye is the biggest brain fart that there is. Some may argue that they some emails could be an emergency but I disagree. I think that if there were a true emergency someone would try to find you by telephone (mobile or office) or come by in person to make sure you are still breathing. This results from the the automatic send receive being turned on also which is our second problem. Too prevent further interruptions from email in your Outlook you must turn off your Desktop Alert and then Disable the Automatic Send/Receive.

If you have trouble viewing the pictures, click on each one for a larger view.

Here’s how to Turn the Desktop Alert Off

Turn Desktop Alert Off
Turn Desktop Alert Off

a. Open your Microsoft Outlook and Choose Tools and then select Options.

b. Mail Format, Email Options

c. Advanced Email Options

d. Uncheck boxes under When new items arrive in my Inbox

Turn off the Automatic Send/Receive

a. Open your Microsoft Outlook and Choose Tools and then select Options.

Tools -/> Options” width=”300″ height=”288″></a><figcaption id=Tools -> Options

b. Choose Mail Setup and then Send/Receive

Uncheck boxes

Uncheck boxes

4. Set up a daily recurring task in your Microsoft Outlook

once at 9 am, once at 12 noon, and once at 3pm that says, “Are you inventing things today to avoid the important?”. This will make sure that you are focusing on dollar productive activities such as prospecting, listing appointments, show appointments, or negotiating contracts. This method is far less expensive than a coach and will dramatically increase your effective use of time.

a. Open up Microsoft Outlook and choose the arrow to the right of New and then select Task.

New Task
New Task

b. Type in the Subject Are you inventing things today to avoid the important, check the Reminder Box, enter in time for the desired reminder time for today’s date, and then click the Recurrence button.

Enter subject, reminder, time, and then click recurrence
Enter subject, reminder, time, and then click recurrence

c. Choose Daily, every 1 day(s) with No End Date.

Daily recurrence with no end date
Daily recurrence with no end date

In order to set the reminder to happen three times in one day you MUST create 3 separate tasks using the same steps explained above.

5. Turn Off Social Media instant messaging to phone and email.

Let me be clear that online social networking is optional and not necessary in order to develop relationships. The more you use a site like Facebook, the more it will suck the life out of you. On the other hand the ones that are living and breathing online communities prefer this method and need contact via this media. I recommend only responding to the messages if and only if it, one, enhances a relationship with people that can say yes to your offerings (love can be an offering), or two, draws them closer towards a commitment to say to your offerings. Each site has notifications page that allows you to choose how to receive updates, private messages, group messages, and any other news. Turn off the email and text messaging features NOW! Each message will be saved in its respective community mailbox for you to view when you have allocated yourself enough time to engage in this form of communication.

Instead of masterfully debating on how you are going to spend your time with email interruptions I hope you can free up some time from these tips so you can live life to the fullest.


Organizations bring in Doug Devitre from St. Louis, Missouri USA when they want to dramatically increase operational performance, create breakthrough value propositions, and serve customers beyond geographical constraints on a minimal budget. For more than a decade he has been setting trends with how organizations engage customers with social media, video marketing, and custom-built software applications. Doug’s book Screen to Screen Selling published by McGraw Hill pioneered the way sales professionals sold homes without being physically present before the COVID-19 pandemic. He is one of a select few who have earned the Certified Speaking Professional Designation from the National Speakers Association and has experience as a REALTOR.

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