I’ve been trying to be less email reactive for the past six months, but it’s been hard. I am painfully aware that constantly checking email throughout the day is destroying my productivity, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t stop. The email just keeps falling from the sky into my brain.

About a month ago, I finally took the radical step of paying money to have my work email stopped except at three points during the day: 8am, 11am, 2pm, and 5pm. The email literally does not come through to my inbox – not on my phone, not on either of my computers, not on my iPad. There are not even notifications that new email exists until the set times.

The first week, I still compulsively checked my email. But over time, I began trusting that everything would be okay. Nobody complained that a response might have taken 3 hours or did not get a response until the next morning. And when I open my email, I can power through all the responses and to-dos quite quickly and then move on.

Inbox pause settings lets you choose the times you release the email and add email addresses to whitelist.

I’m using a Boomerang for Gmail Feature called “Inbox Pause” and it costs about $10/month. It has a few cool features that you might find puts your mind at ease:

  • You can still compose and send emails while the inbox is paused. So you can dedicate time to responding and delegating tasks that came in at your set “release the email” times.
  • If you search your inbox, you will immediately see new emails show up in search, so if you’re looking at an email chain and there are new responses, you’ll see them.
  • You can set your inbox pause to allow in emails from certain people (e.g. your boss) to ensure that nothing disastrous happens.

The only problem I have now is that I actually have two other gmail accounts that I would like to pause, but I can’t justify $30/month to stop myself from compulsively checking email.  I do find that I’m checking my other emails less now that my work email is shut off most of the time, so overall, it’s a win.