—By Cheryle Ross, Marketing Programs Manager, Xerox FreeColorPrinters and Xerox Direct

My introduction at a Distracted Anonymous group meeting might go something like this, “My name is Cheryle Ross, and I have the attention span of a butterfly”.

It wasn’t always like this.

Back in the early days of my career, before email, before the Web, before smart phones, I’d go hours without looking up from my work. If someone needed  me, they would call or walk over to my desk.

For most of us this hasn’t been the case for a long time. We have more ways to consume information than ever before. Email, instant messaging, the Web, smart phones – the ways in which we are connected and available to others are growing every day. We check our emails at the dinner table, on the weekends, even on vacation.

Fortunately, always being “on” doesn’t mean you can’t bring some sanity to your work life. Here are three tips I use to eliminate email clutter and stay focused when I need to:

    1. Add notes to your IM client and email auto-respond

      If your IM (instant messaging) application allows it, add a custom note to your “Busy” status to let contacts know not to message you unless it is absolutely urgent. Be sure to include a specific time when you’ll be available again. Most people use their email Out of Office message for vacations, but it can also be useful for when you want to avoid checking email for longer than two hours or so.

      2. Use Yammer and other collaboration tools to reduce email volume
      If you collaborate frequently with the same group of people, consider moving your email conversations to Yammer or similar discussion environment. It reduces the number of inbound email messages and enables you to review discussions at a convenient time.

      3. Work someplace other than your cubicle
      If allowed, work from home or other remote location once a week. Try not to schedule too many meetings on those days and use the time to focus on projects that require more concentration than might be available to you at the office.

      What do you do when you need focus time at work?

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      #FocusFriday is a weekly conversation helping people with productivity in the office.  Posts can be at the same time fun and serious, in the spirit of the company’s Business of Your Brain app, yet always focused on what matters most, Real Business.