Turning Off E-mail Alerts: Outlook 2007, Hold the ToastJuly 17, 2008 at 2:29 pm | Posted in Attention Management, interruption science | 6 Comments
I struck a blow against interruptions today by finally getting around to turning off e-mail alerts (also called “toasts”) in my Outlook e-mail client. In my presentations on Enterprise Attention Management I describe how people will take action only when the cost of action (figuring out the software or getting new software) exceeds the cost of inaction (the annoyance factor). Well, with e-mail alerts it finally hit that point for me. The number of times it distracted me has been far greater than the number of times it served its purpose by interrupting me to let me know something important had arrived. So I decided it was time to hold the toasts.
Here’s how you do it in Outlook 2007:
I won’t detail instructions for other e-mail systems, but for those that have alerting, most of them have a way to turn it off. For web-based e-mail it’s often in your IM client. For example, with gmail the app itself it web-based, but if you use the Google Talk client it also pops up alerts by default. You can turn those off by going to Settings, Notifications, and clicking off the checkbox for “Show notification” under “New email”.
Now if a co-worker’s e-mail sends me off on a wild goose chase it will still disrupt my day, but at least it won’t interrupt my train of thought since it will wait patiently until I check my e-mail before annoying me. E-mail will always be a distraction, but it doesn’t have to be an interruption.