For maximum productivity during your workday, you want to be the one in control of your time and activities. You’ll be able to focus better and get more done if you can work with as few interruptions as possible.

You probably realize the hit on your productivity that occurs when people drop by your office or call you while you’re in the middle of a task. In fact, research studies have shown that it typically takes a bare minimum of 4 to 6 minutes to fully refocus after an interruption.

But there is one insidious interruption that many people are unconscious to, and it happens all day long.

Here it is:

Email alert

Yes, it’s your Outlook e-mail desktop alert. It’s turned on by default when Outlook is installed. And all day long, it fades in at the lower right-hand corner of your screen, subtly but almost certainly interrupting your train of thought as you glance down to see who has sent you a message. And it gets worse if you click on the alert to open the email, or worse still, switch to your Inbox to find and read the message.

And then, you ask yourself: “Now, what was I doing?”

You should be in control of when you read your e-mail, not a message’s sender. So, I highly recommend you turn the desktop alert off. It’s easy!

Simply right-click on the Outlook icon in your Windows system tray (that’s the set of icons in the bottom-right corner of your screen). From the resulting menu, uncheck  the Show New Mail Desktop Alert option:

Outlook system tray menu

That’s all there is to it!  After that quick fix, you will no longer be distracted.  You can focus on the task at hand, and choose to check your e-mail when you choose to.