E-mail Notifications Do *Not* Hurt Productivity

I've read several articles (yeah, mostly on Lifehacker) that state e-mail notifications (or notification from any service that draw your attention) are evil and that turning them off will dramatically increase productivity. Some colleagues have suggested the same. It basically comes down to the fact that notifications are a distraction, and distractions hurt productivity. This is not true for me.

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Maybe it's true for some people. But before I discovered notifications in my old pop3 client, I was one of those people who manually checked their e-mail every five minutes. Because, who knows! Maybe there's a message out there for me, and here I am not reading it. Crazy? Maybe. But I know there were many other people out there with the same problem.

But with notifications, there's no need to check anything! Knowing that I would be notified when a new e-mail arrived, my brain could give itself permission to stop worrying about it, and I could finally focus on something else, certain that there's nothing else that needs my attention. It removed a source of distraction for me. Note that I don't necessarily spend a lot of time with a new e-mail. I look at the title and sender, and make a quick decision about what to do. I may not read it right away, or at all.

What could be the source of this need of mine to be on top of everything? It may be explained by brain chemistry, but a somewhat higher level cause is that I always like it when people respond to my messages promptly, so I try to be that kind of person myself. Do unto others, and all that. Smile