Over the last few days, while re-organizing my files, I found a 2013 Tim Harford article entitled “Ten Email Commandments”. In it there are some tips dealing with the topic of digital detox – a subject of great relevance these past several years – which are still valid today. I’m happy to share some with you.

  1. Your smartphone should be a bit like your secretary. That is, to keep you away from nuisances and allow you to concentrate on your work. It has, instead, become a toy that distracts us continuously. The first piece of advice: disable all notifications (lights, sounds and vibrations). I do not need flashing lights to see that someone has sent me an email. Unless the apocalypse is around the corner, there is always someone sending me one.
  1. Read your incoming mail and then…empty the folder. In order to preserve your mental health it is best to empty the inbox folder frequently, checking it several times a day (not several times per hour). If you leave too many emails in your inbox, the risk is that you will continue reading the same ones. There are 5 ways to handle an email: delete it, delegate it, reply to it, postpone it or act on it.
  1. Smartphones create habits, so think about the habits you want to have. The smartphone is a great convenience but since it’s always on hand it creates dependence. People are amazed at how many things they are able to accomplish during long flights. Anyone can replicate this type of situation: just switch your phone to flight mode for a few hours.
  1. Social networks are a huge source of distraction. Set yourself some rules, a bit like coffee breaks. Everyone likes to receive approval but continuously checking to see how many “likes” your post has received is an obsession.

Finally, I must say that every day, while striving to follow these good intentions, I am constantly distracted. But now August is here; business slows down. Let’s take advantage of this time to reflect on these suggestions and try to learn some good habits.