Bury The Triggers That Hijack Your Attention - Deepstash

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Email Habits: How to Use Psychology to Regain Control

Bury The Triggers That Hijack Your Attention

Put your mind at ease by burying all the triggers that hijack your attention and keep you away from concentrating on your work.

  1. The first thing is to turn off all the external triggers like your phone notifications, chimes, reminders or icons that rob us of our attention. For persistent apps, you can hide the icon in some folder.
  2. Use online tools like vacation responders and email filters.
  3. Use online calendars that let people schedule time for a meeting.

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Smartphones and Messaging
Smartphones and Messaging

Phones became smart more than a decade ago and started doing almost everything.

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The Message

The technological tools we use keeps us connected to the people that matter to us, and the text (later rich text message) is one of the oldest ways of communication since portable phones came into existence.

It also has a hidden secret that makes us keep checking it.

The Four-Step Hook

... deployed by the messaging software and many other products is composed of:

  1. Trigger
  2. Action
  3. Variable Reward
  4. Investment

Understanding these four steps makes us see the hidden psychology behind a user's daily tech habits.

The psychology behind email
  • Realize that email triggers intermittent variable rewards. Our brains love pulling a lever (i.e. refreshing email) and knowing that the reward (i.e. the number of messages) will vary
When you do hit send, be precise

E-mail is not a substitute for conversations.

Avoid asking open-ended questions and save yourself from the “boomerang effect” (that’s when you invite more email into your inbox than you intended, as a result of having sent out an email in the first place). Be concise in your message and specify the TL;DR and/or requested action upfront.

Find the right downstream systems

The blockage is not email itself, but where all these messages should ultimately go, which requires setting up the right downstream systems.

As you process each message, give yourself five (and only five) options: responding directly or sending the item into whatever system you’re using to manage one of these four buckets.

Dealing with intrusive thoughts
While we can’t control the feelings and thoughts that pop into our heads, we can control what we do with them.

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The internal trigger

Look for the discomfort that comes before the distraction.

Focus on the internal trigger that precedes the unwanted behavior, like feeling anxious, having a craving, feeling restless, or thinking you are incompetent.

Write down the trigger

Write down the trigger, the time of day, what you were doing, and how you felt when you noticed the internal trigger that led to the distracting behavior.

The better we are at noticing the behavior, the better we’ll be at managing it over time.