How To Make More Time For Concentrating By Pausing Your Inbox Cover

How To Make More Time For Concentrating By Pausing Your Inbox

The human mind mostly wants to continue whatever path it’s on. Once you’re in flow, your brain wants to focus, continue to zone in on the task at hand and really exercise those Jedi powers.

As soon as you make the decision to do something, it’s all downhill from there. Here’s how David Rock, author of Your Brain At Work, describes it in Psychology Today:

Once you take an action, an energetic loop commences that makes it harder to stop that action.


Most motor or mental acts also generate their own momentum. Decide to get out of your chair and the relevant brain regions, as well as dozens of muscles, are all activated. Blood starts pumping and energy moves around. To stop getting out of your chair once you start will take more focus and effort than to decide not to get up when you first have the urge.

The problem is that the same method of gaining momentum also applies when we move away from a task, towards a distraction. From an evolutionary standpoint, it’s not so much unnatural to focus, as it is natural to break that focus whenever something potentially dangerous or rewarding pops up.

However, in a 2017 world, most of us lead a different kind of everyday life. One in which we can safely disregard 99% of what our mind considers dangerous and will regret 99% of what our mind considers to be rewarding.

To that end, one of the easiest ways to increase your concentration power is to have less of it taken away.

There are a million and ten ways to remove distractions, so here’s one of the top three I’ve come across in the past two years:

Pause your inbox, so that new emails are only moved into it at specific times.

You can do it with a simple Gmail plugin called Inbox Pause. Here’s what my inbox looks like right now:

When I started using this wonderful tool, I set my inbox to move new emails in three times a day, but hide the label with which they’re all tagged until then, so I can’t take a sneak peek.

You can even set an auto-responder, in which you include your phone number, to give people a way to reach you when something’s urgent.

There are several benefits to this:

  • You’ll stop checking your inbox out of curiosity, because you know nothing will happen before the set time.
  • You’ll eliminate all email notifications at the source and don’t even have to turn them off on all your devices.
  • You can make it a daily ritual to go into your inbox at the set time(s) and clear it out in one go.

Nowadays, I do all my email once per day, at 11 AM, since it’s a lot and a longer lunch break comes in handy afterwards.

I recommend you start with 3 times per day:

  1. Late morning (10–11 AM)
  2. Early afternoon (2–3 PM)
  3. Before you wrap up your day (6–7 PM)

Over time, you can move down to once per day. It takes a while to get used to, so don’t give up when you find yourself checking ahead of time. Trust in your ability to learn to trust the technology.

As you go from productivity Padawan to truly focused Jedi knight, enjoy your newly found focus powers and remember Master Yoda’s words:

“Do or do not, there is no try.” — Yoda