Los Angeles-based Jocelyn K. Glei writes books about life and work in today’s ‘Age of Distraction’. Her latest book on the topic is called Unsubscribe: How to Kill Email Anxiety, Avoid Distractions, and Get Real Work Done. We touch base with Jocelyn for a quick interview.
“It’s actually kind of insane when you think about how many apps you use in a day, or how many browser tabs you have open, or how many messages, alerts and notifications you process in a day. The challenge of living in the Age of Distraction is that it’s incredibly easy to be busy, but it’s incredibly difficult to be deliberate, to be focused. You can’t produce anything of value without focus.”
Is that what your latest book, Unsubscribe, is about too?
“Yes. It’s a modern guide to taming inbox overload and avoiding distraction—so that you can spend more time on the work that really matters. It shows readers how to break free from e-mail (and social media) addiction, build healthier work habits and prioritize their creative goals on a daily basis.”
What did you learn yourself while writing this book?
“This fascinating fact about e-mail: The more frequently you check your e-mail, the more stressed you are at the end of the day, and the less happy you are. I think we know this intuitively, but for me it was quite powerful to have it scientifically confirmed. There are two types of e-mailers: Reactors and Batchers. Reactors rely on notifications and near-constant monitoring of their inboxes to nibble away at their e-mail throughout the day; Batchers set aside specific chunks of time to power through their e-mail so they can ignore it the rest of the day. Not surprisingly, Batchers are significantly more productive and have a greater sense of well-being. So I recommend setting aside two to three blocks of 30–60 minutes per day for checking e-mail—and put them on your calendar. It sounds easy but it requires quite a lot of self-control.”
Does that work for you?
“A lot of people have trouble not checking their e-mail—or struggle with checking it in batches as I suggest above—because they have a fear of missing out. Or they literally just have fear, like they’ll get in trouble if they don’t respond to a boss or client quickly enough. To deal with this, I’ve been really into using ‘VIP notifications’ lately. On an iPhone, you can designate certain people as VIPs, so whenever you get an e-mail from them, you get a special push notification. The Gmail and Android phones have similar options for designating priority senders. Then you’re freed up to ignore your e-mail without worrying you’ll miss something crucial.”
The book Unsubscribe: How to Kill Email Anxiety, Avoid Distraction, and Get Real Work Done is also available via our web shop. If you’d like to learn more about Jocelyn K. Glei, take a look at her website or follow her on Twitter @jkglei.