Last week I had an experiment. Rather than subject myself to the constant bombardment of work e-mails I decided to check my it only twice per day. I never realized just how much distress receiving and replying to-e-mail caused and how much of a distraction it is during the workday until I practically removed it altogether.

Lately I have found that the constant e-mail alerts on my computer and phone were beginning to drive me crazy. Every time I felt my phone vibrate, saw desktop preview, or heard the e-mail alert I would sigh in frustration. Getting something done was nearly impossible. I couldn’t start a task without being interrupted with one request or another. I couldn’t have a peaceful night at home or out with friends unless I left my phone at home, but then would be concerned that I might miss an actual emergency. Between the constant notifications form AIM, Twitter, Facebook, personal e-mail, work e-mail, text messages, phone calls, Skype, etc., it is becoming increasingly difficult for us to be productive and/or focus on any one particular task for an extended period of time.

To remedy this situation, I removed my work e-mail from my cell phone. “Are you sure you wish to delete this account?” Yes! I then turned off my e-mail clients (I use Entourage for work) and only checked it twice: at 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

Almost immediately I felt like a new person. I was much more productive and my stress level dropped tremendously. What happened when I opened my inbox? Other than receiving my unread e-mails, nothing. Nothing had fallen apart. I hadn’t missed anything crucial. I was able to increase both my effectiveness in the workplace and reduce stress by simply closing my e-mail.