With two major projects in flight and a third one heating up I’ve been looking for a better way to feel less overwhelmed by the torrent of email–a way to recapture the feeling of peace that comes working late on Saturday night when there are no interruptions.  When no new mail messages arrive and nobody is pinging you on instant messenger, and you feel like you’ve accomplished a full day of work in three hours.

I just finished reading a fantastic book called Rework by the founders of 37 Signals (Jason Fried & David Heinemeir Hansson) which led me to the subscribe to their blog.  The first entry I read was a musing about how much easier it would be to reduce an inbox that didn’t feel full.  This reminded me of my own new technique.

More and more I’m doing a complete off-line sync of my mailbox and only going back on-line to send or compulsively deliberately, check for new messages.  It is definitely a simple, nice way to dam everything up for a while, process a chunk of messages, and feel like I’ve gotten somewhere before consciously asking for more.

It’s tempting to stay on-line, observing the torrent of incoming messages or compulsively checking for new ones because, “surely the email that will change the rest of my day or that I must respond to immediately or dire consequences will result”  could come at any second.

Honestly ask yourself, “How many times did that happen yesterday or in the past week or month?  Was all that vigilance and distraction worth it?”  In my situation it rarely, if ever, is though I fully respect your environment may be different.

Image by cole007 via flickr used under a Creative Commons license.