What goes by the name of the Pomodoro technique these days can be useful to get work done when procrastination lures. It’s a simple technique: set a timer for 25 minutes, and work until the time is up. Then take a break, and repeat. To resist the urge to do something else, there is a simple solution: have a pen and paper ready (e.g. next to the computer mouse). When these e-mails “need urgent checking”, draw a little dot on that paper instead, and get back to work.
There is one problem with the Pomodoro technique, though: it can break flow. So it happens that I start writing, and at a moment when the world outside has temporarily ceased to exist, the timer goes off. That’s a nuisance. I could set the timer to a longer period of time, but then sometimes 25 minutes are quite long already. Here’s a simple solution: disable the notifications altogether. I use a simple timer that changes its icon from white to yellow when the time is up. If I’m in a flow, that (white) icon has temporarily ceased to exist, so I don’t care if it changes colour. If I struggle to keep going, the change of colour comes as a relief.